As President –elect, Muhammadu Buhari prepares to take the oath of office, expectations are high and Nigerians are looking forward hopefully, to see human-faced policies and programmes which he had over the years sought to implement. But the task ahead is tough but not insurmountable. Tapping into his much advertised popularity and humility and his determination to move the country to the next level, we cannot but be optimistic like most Nigerians.
Rebuilding trust and restarting the apparently stalled nation-building project should be of utmost priority to the incoming government. The president –elect, must therefore focus on some few critical sectors, such as power, security, infrastructure development, tackling unemployment among others to pull the country out of its current morass. The incoming administration has a big job at hand which must begin with the power sector. Globally, power is the bedrock of any serious economy and the more reasons why nations of the world invest heavily in the sector. In Nigeria, the reverse is the case. Power generation is at an unacceptable level, in spite of the huge investment committed into it by previous administrations, darkness encompasses the country. It is even more frustrating for both domestic and industrial consumers as the deterioration in service delivery has been rapidly progressive over the years. In addition to this is the high level of corruption which further makes a ridicule of the huge investment in the sector.
According to a 2013 report about $31.45billion was invested in this sector between 1999 to 2013 and all that was generated within those years was just 2500MW, thus taking the total power generation to about 4500MW. And when this figure is compared with the output of other countries within the same period, it remains a far cry. Between 1994 and 2008, Brazil had invested $58billion in its power sector, and its power generation rose to about 100,000MW.
Equally sad is the fact that counties like Uruguay, Mauritius, Costa Rica and South Africa, in a 2012 report were the largest investors in renewable energy. South Africa, generates close o 40,000MW, and 98percent of which is from coal. The Island of Mauritius enjoyed stable electricity as it was able to generate about 2,575MW in 2013, representing an increase of 3.2percent when compared to the 2012 figures which was less than 1000MW and presently 80percent of the electricity in that country is from thermal plants, while the remaining 20percent is from hydro-power. The story is the same in Uruguay from 2500MW to 2900MW between 2009 and 2013, and about sixty-three percent of this is from hydro-power. So, if these countries are reaping the benefits that come with stable electricity due to their huge investment in the sector, it cannot be otherwise with us in Nigeria. We therefore, expect a total overhaul of the sector and workable mechanisms put in place for the country to derive maximum benefits.
More worrying is the fact that when the government came up with the idea of privatisation, many Nigerians thought that the long-awaited solution was at hand. However, the privatization of the sector has not changed anything; rather, Nigerians are paying more for electricity they hardly consume. In the second half of April, power supply dropped below 3,000MW and that figure has remained the same for about two decades now. This, no doubt, should be a source of worry to all. To compound this is the current fuel shortage which has made it a nightmare for individuals as well as business enterprises. It is a double tragedy that petrol on which so many small and medium -scale businesses depend on has become in short supply in a country with high unemployment rate.
It remains an incontrovertible fact therefore for the in-coming government to take a holistic look at the power sector and the entire privatisation process and do the needful. As a matter of urgency, the country must explore the coal, waste and solar energy options as well as fine-tuning the privatization policy to encourage the inflow of investments into the power sector to create more jobs towards addressing the unemployment scourge.
Therefore, with the incoming government, Nigerians desire to see a return to a culture of frugality, and the building up of reserves for the rainy day. For now, the onus is on the President –elect to convince all and sundry that his mission is noble and his goals are for a better Nigeria.