More state governments are complaining of not getting electricity supply commensurate with what they have been generating into the national grid.
They are inadvertently drawing attention to the fact that the monopoly the Federal Government holds over the national grid has continued to frustrate efforts by states which have the capacity to generate and transmit constant electricity to their people from doing so.
Although the concurrent list as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria empowers states to establish power plants, generate and transmit same, but Section 41(B) has a drawback that prevents them from transmitting to communities already covered by the national grid.
Most recently, Governor Udom Emmanuel restated that Ibom Power Company generates 150 megawatts of electricity enough to supply daily 22 hours of light to the entire Akwa Ibom State. However, it is painful that while the whole 150 megawatt is evacuated into the national grid, what is transmitted back to the state is far below the input.
As a result of concentrating all the authority to transmit electricity into the hands of the Federal Government, states have continued to suffer inadequate power supply.
It is becoming a national shame that almost 60 years after gaining independence, Nigeria cannot boast of a day without several power outages. While Ghana celebrated a year of uninterrupted power supply in 1999 or thereabout, Nigeria has never celebrated 24 hours of uninterrupted power supply.
There is this pathetic story of a Nigerian lecturer who met a German counterpart in Zimbabwe and when they got talking about the electricity situation in that country, the German who was in his middle-age said that he had never in all his years from childhood to adulthood in Germany ever witnessed power outage, even for a second. Shamefully, the Nigerian did not have a similar story to tell.
Lack of constant electricity in Nigeria has been a cog in the nation’s wheel of progress. It has greatly stunted growth and held back the economy from its full potentials.
There is no doubt that it has become apparent that the Federal Government has to deregulate the power sector. It was based on this understanding that many state governments as empowered by the concurrent list went into electricity generation.
Since the turn of the new millennium, many state governments have made the most of it in setting up their independent power plants. On the part of the Federal Government, a lot has been expended on the sector with no results. It is widely believed that the Chief Olusegun Obansanjo Administration alone spent $16million on the sector.
Many of the independent power stations that now dot the Nigerian landscape are completely underutilized in that while they generate enough electricity into the national grid, they cannot transmit to the people on behalf of whom they were established.
The Federal Government has acknowledged that the nation’s electricity problem is not about generation but transmission. It is therefore hoped that the electricity deal between the Federal Government and Siemens of Germany will finally solve the teething electricity issues in Nigeria.
While praying for the Siemens project to succeed, the Federal Government must, as a matter of fact, fully deregulate the sector to allow states that are capable to widely transmit electricity and that will, of course, take pressure away from the national grid.
Such a deregulation would require the National Assembly to amend the concurrent list to allow states power to be independent of the national grid.
Should that be, then there are states that will gladly jump at it to do it all alone such as Akwa Ibom and Lagos to mention a few.