When the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP), was conceptualised by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, with seven medium sized power plants in Niger Delta and 12 gas pipelines and metering facilities for the supply of gas to the power plants, the idea was to radically increase the amount of energy generated nationwide and tackle the epileptic electricity supply in the country.
It is not surprising that the fortunes of the NIPP nosedived given the country’s penchant for missing set target.
Rather than realise the objective for its establishment , problem of gas shortage, equipment auctioning at ports and threats of security agents, among others have not only killed the idea, but constituted major challenges to the National Integrated Power Projects.
Since the challenges have lingered for so long, the slow pace of work has since sent so many tongues wagging about the nefarious activities that marred the NIPP projects in the country.
The Contractors operating under the umbrella of Electric Power Foundation (EPF), who are conversant with the handling of the various projects being executed in the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP) have been making startling revelations, while affirming that nothing good will ever come out of the NIPP.
They particularly heaped the blame at the door steps of the agency said to be auctioning imported power equipment and equally responsible for “undue delay” in the clearance of the equipment.
Mr. Otis Anyaeji, who is the Chairman of EPF revealed at a public forum in Lagos recently that on one occasion, a truck load of transformers heading to Bayelsa State for NIPP project was offloaded along the road on the orders of the operatives of the Joint Task Force (JTF).
Anyaeji, the nation’s one time management consultant on NIPP pointed out that the multiple government agencies working at cross purposes at the ports actually aggravate the delay in clearing imported equipment meant for the project.
The EPF boss said , “To clear imported NIPP equipment, we find that we have to deal with so many agencies, each making ridiculous demands. There are cases of auctioning of imported NIPP equipment. NIPP is very clearly written on all NIPP equipment and these are equipment meant for projects that are funded by the federal, state and local governments, and yet, the agency auctions some NIPP equipment.”
He said the police and other security agents also contribute to the delay in delivering equipment to the project sites, pointing out that the situation at a time forced the Managing Director of Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDHC), operators of NIPP, to seek the intervention of top officials of the security agencies before JTF could release a truck load of transformers that was intercepted on its way to Bayelsa State.
According to Anyaeji, what this trend portends is unnecessary delay in the expected improvement in power supply across the country, adding that the delay in clearing imported equipment at the ports had not only resulted in delay in the delivery of equipment to project sites, but has also brought about higher project costs, time slippages and non-availability of electricity to Nigerians.
As power supply continues to drop instead of increasing to meet the country’s 5000 Megawatts target he lamented that a situation whereby the government agents continue to auction imported NIPP equipment has made it impossible to contribute its target of nearly 5000 Megawatts to the country’s power supply.
As a way forward, he counseled that the “Government has to address the challenges in the sector such as appropriate pricing regime, commencement of operations by the bulk trader and speedy conclusion of its privatisation. We must come together to support government to ensure that the power sector works and Nigeria’s energy security is assured,” he stressed.
Though many businesses spend millions of naira every month on diesel for their generators, the President of National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Dr. Herbert Ajayi, believes there could still be light at the end of the tunnel if there is sincere commitment by the Federal Government in its efforts to fix the power sector .
The NACCIMA boss who charged Nigerians to cooperate with appropriate authorities to ensure that power works, enjoined investors to invest in the sector, as the Federal Government was determined to improve the electricity supply in the country.
According to him, Nigerians need electricity not only in quantity, but also quality supply and at affordable rate, urging electricity consumers to imbibe the maintenance culture to be able to conserve energy generated.
He noted that Nigerians are interested in outright performance that would translate to constant electricity supply and not some policy statements successive governments in the country have been making without achieving the desired results.
However, the reality on ground is that unless concrete steps are taken urgently, power failure may be the final nail in the coffin of vision 2020 the country wants to ride on to be one of the biggest economies in the world.