Six Years In Office, Buhari’s Power Reforms Yet To ‘Light Up’ Nigeria

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PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari tried to undertake some major reforms in the power sector, but his intervention is marred by inconsistencies, overwhelming subsidy payments and recurring grid collapse. Nigeria’s power sector was unbundled and privatised in 2013 to establish a competitive market to improve management and efficiency, attract private investment, increase generation, and provide a reliable and cost-efficient power supply. However, the dream to deliver a cost-efficient power supply to Nigerians remains a pipe dream, due to poor leadership and weak regulatory intervention. For instance,  many public institutions default to pay for power, with debts surging in billions even as government pays subsidies for liquidity shortfall. Also, the pricing for power has been the bane of the sector. Another key problem is operation deficiencies and non-alignment of various power sector value chains consisting of generation, transmission and distribution, with each constantly trading blames. The sector, despite privatisation, is weak due largely to underpayment of power costs by consumers which makes subsidy in the power sector thrive despite privatisation. “Many Nigerians bypass power lines to access power without payment. This is hugely affecting cost recovery. There is also low electricity pricing because people are yet to pay the appropriate price for power. Most often we get directive from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC not to effect the appropriate price, which contradicts the Electricity Power Sector Reform Act of 2005 on multi-year tariff Order. It also affects cost recovery efficiency.” President of the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors,(ANED) Sunday Oduntan told The ICIR. Despite being privatised, the Buhari administration has continued closing various gaps in the power sector value chains, including paying over N50bn for subsidy for the sector. Ahmed Zakari, the Presidential Adviser on Power and Infrastructure revealed that the President is keen and focused on using numerous avenues to close infrastructural gaps in the power sector. He said $3 to $5billion  have been committed to upscale various power infrastructure in the country. ” Through support from the World Bank, we now have $1.6 billion has been devoted for the Transmission expansion programme. We signed another 500 million dollars for the development of the distribution sector. The Central Bank of Nigeria has also put out. Emergency funds for the distribution sector as well as transmission sector in various phases to the tune of 500 million dollars.” ” We also have the SIEMENS presidential power initiative that we’ve signed the engineering agreement. We are also looking at the performance improvement plans of the Discos to enable us to hold them accountable as they receive these support funds. This performance agreement will enable them to align their projects with funds that are available. “We also have the national mass metering programme which is helping us to improve the revenue and sustainability of the sector while addressing the liquidity concerns in the sector.” “With this enhanced metering on the service-based tariff, we can see the Nigerian Electricity supply industry generating over N100 billion in the near to mid-term. This is very impressive. The hypothesis that we have is that if you enhance payment discipline through the metering population, revenue will go up. We have proven that, “the presidential adviser said.

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