Nnaji’s free bulbs
Thursday, May 17, 2012

The recent plan by the Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji, to distribute energy-efficient-led bulbs as a way of conserving available energy and improving power supply in the country is trite and laughable.

Nnaji had hinted about the planned distribution of millions of energy-efficient-led bulbs free to all consumers in the country as part of energy efficiency programme to reduce consumption through reduced use of conventional bulbs. Shedding more light on the programme, the minister also explained that a 15-watts-led bulb is equivalent to a 60 watts regular bulb while an 18-watts-led bulb is equivalent to a regular 100 watts one.

Curiously, the minister was silent on the number of bulbs he plans to distribute and the means of getting this across to consumers. He also did not tell Nigerians the quantum of energy that is expected to be conserved through the use of the energy-efficient bulbs.

This is coming on the heels of earlier information that for the country to meet its electricity requirement of about 135,000 megawatts to effectively power the economy, it must exploit numerous power sources like fuel, gas, hydro, coal, wind and solar energy.

At present, Nigeria generates about 3,600 megawatts of electricity out of the 5,700 megawatts available capacity. The shortfall has been blamed on non-availability of gas, lack of proper maintenance, water management issues and transmission constraints, among other factors.

Nnaji should, indeed, face the issue of power generation squarely and work seriously towards increasing the quantity of power generated in order to meet the required target. It was revealed at the recent one-day presidential workshop on power in Abuja that for the nation to achieve its electricity target, it needs about 15 times of what is presently generated.

No doubt, the energy-efficient bulbs would not do the magic. There is the need for a pragmatic and workable roadmap for the power sector to improve significantly. All the agencies involved in ensuring that there is steady and sustainable power in the country should work in concert to achieve the desired result.

It is regrettable that the power sector has remained problematic despite the huge sums of money pumped into it since 1999. From the administration of former president, Olusegun Obasanjo to the late president, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, the story has remained the same. For instance, about $13.27 billion was expended on the revamping of the sector during the Obasanjo administration, while $6 billion was spent on the sector during Yar’Adua’s regime.

Nigerians were elated when upon assuming office about a year ago President Goodluck Jonathan promised that the power sector problem would be his number one priority. He, like most Nigerians, believes that once the power sector problem is fixed, all other things will fall in line. But one year into his administration, the power sector has not witnessed any significant change.

Therefore, the Minister of Power should be working towards harnessing all the available energy sources in the country and solve the nation’s endemic power problem. The government should tap solar, wind, hydro, coal, gas, fuel including bio-fuel sources in resolving the nation’s power problem instead of distribution of energy-saving bulbs. Most of the available power sources in the country are cheap and available in large quantities. What is needed is the political will to exploit and put them to use.

Let government remove all obstacles, legal or otherwise, that have impeded the liberalization of the power sector in order to bring in more credible players that will assist in boosting the quantity of power produced in the country. We have the manpower and resources to meet our electricity target. What is required is a focused and determined effort to achieve result. That is what Nnaji should do for the beleaguered sector and not distribution of bulbs.

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