Nigerians lament over unending power outage amidst Buhari’s Administration failure on campaign promises as analysts expect voters apathy on 2023 elections

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Nigerians lament over unending power outage as Buhari’s APC fails on campaign promises on constant power supply as analysts see voters apathy for 2023 elections, Naija247News understands

For many Nigerians, the 2023 polls present an important opportunity for a change in trajectory. Most attention will be on the ruling party candidates, the All Progressives Congress (APC), and the prominent opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), given their dominance of the political space.

The amended Electoral Act permits parties to select frontrunners through direct, indirect and consensus procedures. The historically flawed nature of these processes raises little hope that quality leaders will be chosen.

Patronage levels are high in the major parties, and the candidates who have declared their intentions have questionable political histories. Many are seen as the ‘usual suspects’ – career politicians who have been eyeing the presidency for several years and believe they deserve the position.

70% of Nigerians reported an interest in leaving the country in 2021, compared to 35% in 2019

Party politics, the high cost of election campaigns and zoning practices limit the kinds of candidates who can compete for positions. This could fuel voter apathy, which has been rising since the 2003 polls. In the past two electoral cycles, the average turnout was 35%, lower than most West African countries. This could be worsened by a sense of detachment among Nigerians, 70% of whom reported an interest in leaving the country in 2021, compared to 35% in 2019.

Regional political instability will also be a factor in the 2023 elections. The January coup in Burkina Faso sent ripples across Nigeria with speculation about whether the trend of government takeovers could reach the country. The military’s reasons for overthrowing the Burkinabe government – a failure to end the violent extremism that had claimed lives and properties – were all too familiar to Nigerians. Terrorism has killed over 7,500 people in six years and displaced over 1.6 million.

The speculations were significant enough to elicit comments from Chief of Defence Staff General Lucky Irabor. At an event in Abuja on 25 February 2022, he reiterated that Nigeria’s military was not interested in carrying out a coup, implying that some politicians were trying to lure soldiers into undertaking one.

Governance challenges in Nigeria have undermined the security situation in the region. One example is the spillover of Boko Haram attacks into Chad, Cameroon and Niger, which turned the insurgency into a regional threat after 2013. Locals in Benin also suspect their proximity to Nigeria contributes to the rise of kidnapping for ransom.

Dismal electoral outcomes in Nigeria may further harm the prospects of democratic transitions in the region. And the country’s disproportionate economic size can also present a burden for regional economies.

Buhari’s signing of the amended Electoral Act comes after a failed attempt to install an APC faithful, Lauretta Onochie, as one of the commissioners on the Independent National Electoral Commission. Fortunately, provisions such as digital platforms for recording and transmitting votes provide some hope about the credibility and transparency of the elections.

The high stakes surrounding Nigeria’s 2023 elections need to be more explicitly recognised in the discourse around the polls. This could help shift the narrative from patronage to competence. A business-as-usual approach to primary and general elections may have severe consequences for the country and the region.

Power worsens outage
Meanwhile Nigeria’s national power grid collapsed yesterday, causing a nationwide outage as the entire system crashed due to the loss of 1,100 megawatts from a 3,700mw peak generation earlier recorded.

This was just as airline operators in Nigeria yesterday warned that they have only three days left to shut down operations over lingering scarcity of aviation fuel.

For the power sector, as at yesterday afternoon, the system was yet to pick up load, according to a grid operations report, which showed that just three Generation Companies (Gencos) were trying to restart, but were yet to generate any energy.

THISDAY learnt that Minister of Power, Mr. Abubakar Aliyu, called an emergency meeting yesterday to resolve all outstanding issues with the stakeholders in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) as a result of the worsening power situation.

According to the grid operation trend, of the active 25 Gencos on the grid, 19 were producing power as of 6am, when the grid had 3,867.60MW, but that began to reduce gradually until it dropped to 2,761.20MW by 10am after six Gencos went down, leaving just 13, before crashing to zero at 10.40 am.

THISDAY learnt that at least 1,100MW was initially lost from the 3,867MW peak generation before the Gencos started shutting down.

The analysis showed that the affected plants included Azura-Edo IPP (Gas), which was generating 447MW earlier, and Shiroro hydropower, which had 300MW earlier and later went off. Trans-Amadi (Gas) lost 92MW, Alaoji NIPP (Gas) lost 75MW, while Ihovbor NIPP (Gas) lost 101MW.

As of yesterday, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), which manages the power grid, had yet to comment on the immediate cause of the collapse, although, it was the first in the year.

The blackout had worsened throughout the country around 10:40am, after the national grid collapsed, with the Eko Electricity Distribution Company, confirming the incident in a text message to its customers.

The text message read, “Dear esteemed customers, a system collapse occurred on the national grid at 10:40am today, leading to outages across our network. We are working on the situation with our TCN partners and will keep you updated.

“We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience this may have caused.”

Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) also pleaded for the understanding of its customers, noting that it is taking appropriate steps to ameliorate the effect.

The Disco stated, “Dear esteemed customer, we experienced general outage across AEDC network at 10:40am today due to a system collapse which occurred on the national grid.

“Appropriate measures are now being taken to restore normal supply as quickly as possible. We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience.”

While confirming the system collapse yesterday, Kaduna Electricity assured its customers that power would soon be restored.

It stated, “We regret to inform you that the power outage being experienced in our franchise states is due to system collapse of the national grid which occurred about 10:40am.

“Power supply shall be restored as soon as the National Grid is powered back. Our sincere apologies for any inconvenience.”

In its notice to customers, Enugu Electricity Distribution Plc said the system collapse affected supply in Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo states.

The notice signed by EEDC Head, Corporate Communications, Emeka Ezeh, read, “The Enugu Electricity Distribution PLC (EEDC) wishes to inform her esteemed customers in the South East of a general system collapse which occurred this morning, Monday, 14th March 2022 at 10:40 am.

“This is the reason for the loss of supply currently being experienced across the network.

“Consequently, all our outgoing feeders are out and supply to our customers in Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo states is affected by this development.”

Meanwhile, the power minister yesterday held an emergency meeting with all stakeholders in the power sector to address the current low power generation. He warned that stakeholders must work together to make electricity more stable.

The meeting held at the conference hall of the ministry had in attendance delegations from the Gencos, TCN, Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET), Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), Nigerian National Petroleum Company ( NNPC), Shell, and other stakeholders in the power value chain.

A source at the meeting quoted Aliyu as saying, “This meeting was summoned to address the current electricity situation in the country, which we are not happy about. We must find a solution so that Nigerians will have electricity. I want us to have the patience to talk to each other, not blame each other.”

Aliyu maintained that the Nigerian government would not relent in its effort to ensure that improvements in the power sector were sustained and built upon, adding that current challenges must be addressed.

The meeting, according to the minister, would find solutions that would ensure prompt resolution of all the problems affecting power generation currently besetting Nigeria.

In Lagos, the Egbin Power Plc also recorded a collapse in its power generating system for the second time in 2022. The Egbin Power system collapse, which occurred about 10:40am, was witnessed by journalists who were at the venue to cover the 2022 edition of Egbin Graduate Engineers Programme (GEP).

The incident happened in the presence of the top management team of Egbin, including Group Managing Director of Sahara Power Group and Chairman of Ikeja Electric, Mr. Kola Adesina, among others.

The Minister of Power had penultimate week blamed the low water level at the dams for the worsening power supply in the country.

TCN also had last week attributed the worsening power situation to low power generation from generation companies (Gencos).

The Gencos in turn fired back on Sunday, as their Executive Secretary, Dr Joy Ogaji, blamed the worsening state of power supply in the country on the N1.6 trillion owed them by the federal government since 2013.

The Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET), on its part, disputed the Gencos’ debt claim, saying only companies with active gas supply and transportation contracts were paid for unutilised capacity.

The Sahara Power GMD expressed sadness over the poor state of the country’s power sector and the endless blame game among players in the sector.

Adesina, “I hate what is going on. As a Nigerian, I’m displeased, I’m not happy and I will tell you why. All that Nigerians want today is power. Isn’t it? No blame game now, no story.

“Just give power to the people, end of discussion. When generation says it’s gas, story. When gas says because people are not paying them, story. When TCN says Discos are not taking power, story. So, it’s just stories. We don’t want stories. I’m tired of the contradictory stories and I don’t like it.”

Adesina said the blame game in the sector could only be solved in a sincere dialogue by all the market participants.

According to him, “Once that is done, the problem will be solved, and I know that the Minister of Power is already planning to bring all the sector participants together to have a conversation to resolve this problem.”

In a related development, the Board of Directors of Eko Electricity Distribution Company approved the appointment of Dr. Tinuade Sanda as Deputy Managing Director of the company. Prior to her appointment, Sanda was Chief Accounting Officer, a position she had occupied since 2013.

This announcement was made by EKEDC General Manager, Corporate Communications, Godwin Idemudia.

Idemudia said in the statement, “We are pleased to announce that the Board of Eko DisCo has approved the appointment of Dr. Tinuade Sanda as the new Deputy CEO, which is in line with the company’s strategies and procedures.

“The Board and Management are confident in Sanda’s proficiency and capacity to assist in leading the company towards its vision of becoming the leading and customer-centric electricity distribution company in Africa.”

Commenting on the appointment, Board Chairman, EKEDC, Mr. Oritsedere Otubu, said, “We are proud to announce Tinuade Sanda our first female Deputy CEO. Her appointment has proven the resilience of our succession planning mechanisms and the value we place on our corporate governance practices, which underpin our philosophy of building and recognising home-grown talents.”

Aviation Fuel Scarcity: We Have Three Days to Shut Down Operations, Airlines Warn

Airline Operators in Nigeria yesterday warned that they have only three days left to shut down operations over lingering scarcity of aviation fuel.

In their presentation, Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) threatened that they had only three days to shut down operations over lack of aviation fuel.

Represented by the Chief Executive Officer of Airpeace, Mr. Allen Onyema, expressed concern over the high cost of aviation fuel.

This was as the stakeholders in the aviation sector agreed to peg the price of the aviation fuel at N500 per litre.

The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), Mr. Mele Kyari announced the decision at the meeting of the stakeholders with the special committee of the House of Representatives investigating the circumstances surrounding the recent hike in the price of aviation fuel chaired by the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Idris Wase.

The resolution to peg the price at N500 per litre would be experimented for only three days from today and within the period the Association of Airline Operators and the major oil marketers are to engage themselves and work out modalities that would lead to the permanent reduction of the price of aviation fuel in the country.

Kyari, however disclosed that at the moment there were 19 oil companies with 88 million litres of aviation fuel in the country.

The NNPC boss explained: “We know this is a very difficult situation. We know that once aviation fuel increases, prices of flight ticket will certainly increase and this can surely cost pain for Nigerians. That is why we are working with you to ensure that those pains are minimised to the barest minimum and one of the elements is the pricing of aviation fuel.

“So, what we have engaged with MOMAN, DAPMAN and the airline operators is that in three days’ time, their representatives will sit down and agree on a transparent base for pricing.

“That means that they ought to have a referenced benchmark that is quoted transparently in the market. They will have a referenced exchange rate for the naira so that anyone can compete.

“They will also agree on a premium which currently differs from customer-to-customer, depending on the volume you buy and the credit level.”

Kyari added: “These are the things they can negotiate in three days and close, so that going forward, there is a transparent decision on pricing. This will no doubt throw up the actual value of the product in the market.

“You will no longer see these discrepancies we have seen where some people are selling at N445 and some are selling at N630. This will completely bring close such that you will not see these differences.

“We also agreed that in the interim, between now and three days they have to close negotiations, the lowest price we have seen this morning was N445 and the highest was N605.

“There is a trader that is selling at N630 and we don’t think this is normal and so, we discounted it.”

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Speaking further, the NNPC GMD said it was, “agreed that we sell at N500 in the next three days and after that, they will switch to the new price that everyone can assess.”

According to him, as requested by the Airline Operators Association of Nigeria, “they would be granted license by the authority to import petroleum products, particularly ATK so that they can have a way of benchmarking the sales of other customers and can also bring in cheaper products whenever it is possible.”

Continuing, the operators through Onyema requested for licencing of its members for the importation of Aviation Fuel to end the perennial hike in the price and scarcity of ATK.

They maintained that they have the competence to import the required ATK for their operations without any hitches.

According to them, “We can afford to import this fuel, let NNPC give us the licence and we will no longer complain. I have the mandate of every airline in this country to announce to you that if they can’t come down from their rooftops, we have only three more days to be able to fly. “We are not threatening this country. We have been subsiding what we have been doing. The rate as at today is N630, N640 and N605. We have an aircraft going to Kano, it has about 7000 liters of fuel in it, multiple it, sir by N630. The unit cost per seat is about N70000 per seat. You have not talked about insurance that is very static. Nigerians pay heavy insurance premium because this country is stigmatised.

“You have to insure abroad. It is a must because all the insurance companies in Nigeria put together cannot even pay for one aircraft. So, you have to go abroad to insure. “Yet the fuel cost which is supposed to be about 30 to 40 per cent in every clime, in Nigeria it about 70 per cent even before time. So, you can now see the mortality rate of airlines in this country.

“From what is happening, if it continues this way, the least ticket will be about N120 for economy and we don’t want to do that. We want to inform the house that we are demanding that we should be given licence to import this fuel. If we can buy jets that cost hundreds of billions of dollars, we can afford to import this fuel.”

Responding to the resolutions read by the NNPC GMD, Onyeama said the implication of the N500 per litre benchmark for three days was that the ticket for airfare would be N85,000 per seat on economy.

They however expressed gratitude to the House of Representatives and the NNPC for standing by the operators.

The Chairman of the Committee and Deputy Speaker, Wase faulted the presentation made by the Chief Executive, Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority, Ahmed Farouk, who was represented by an Executive Director, Ogbogu Ukoha who insisted that prices had been discounted.

Wase had asked the regulatory body the current price of the product and why it was so exorbitant but was referred to the marketers who however sidestepped the questions and could not give specific answers.

He thereafter warned NMDPRA against blackmailing the government.