Katsina - Stakeholders in the power sector on Friday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency in the sector a way of creating sanity and improving economic fortunes of the country.
A cross section of Nigerians told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the slow pace of growth of the nation's economy was due to the poor energy supply .
The stakeholders expressed the belief that Nigeria would be among the top 20 economies in the world if it ensured steady power supply.
Many of them, mostly small scale business operators, artisans and other electricity consumers, expressed regrets that they had run out of business due to consistent power outage.
Also read: Buhari reveals how his cabinet will emerge
In Katsina, small business operators said that the frequent power outage had affected their businesses negatively.
The operators also complained of not making profit as the little they gain always went into purchase of fuel to run their generators.
Similarly, the operators lamented over the high tariff charged by the power distribution companies nationwide, in spite of poor power supply.
Malam Isah Abubakar, cold drinks seller in Katsina, said that the business had not been going smoothly due to the epileptic power supply to the state.
According to him, the high cost fuel and high electricity tariff have caused many operators and industrialists to either record low profit or run out of business.
A lecturer in Department of Electrical Engineering, Hassan Usman Katsina Polytechnic, Malam Safiyanu Nuhu, called on the government to pump more resources to revive the ailing power sector.
He said that the administration should declare a state of emergency in the sector to achieve the targeted goal.
In Kaduna, the Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company said the poor power supply in the country was caused by multiple challenges hampering generation and distribution of electricity.
The company's Head of Corporate Communication, Mr Abdulazeez Abdullahi, listed the major challenges against effective distribution of power.
"First is the issue of generation; the generating companies have not been able to produce sufficient power that can serve the whole of the country.
"We are supposed to be gnerating between 700 megawatts to 800 Megawatts which is to be distributed to the whole of our zone: Kaduna, Sokoto, Zamfara and Kebbi daily.
"But we only receive between 150MW to 200MW when times are good, and the supply is not even enough to serve Kaduna, let alone the other states.
"Some of the infrastructure we inherited like the transformers, the power lines and the sub-stations are very weak.
"Some of them were installed way back in the 70s and 80s and they have not undergone any major refurbishment since then and these are the infrastructure we inherited."
According to him, unless these major challenges are resolved, the generating companies will not be able to provide power beyond the current capacity.
Abdullahi, however, said plans were underway to refurbish and rehabilitate the facilities to make them more modern.
"Until we do that, infrastructure challenges will continue to hamper effective distribution.
"Heavy rain falls for instance, affect electric poles because of their weak status; they are easily destroyed by rainstorm.``
The official agreed that the rationing of power allocation had adversely affected industrial and other economic activities, especially in states under the company.
"The small scale businesses are finding it difficult to survive because of the poor electricity supply and the very big ones are having difficulties in having alternative sources of power supply.
"The negative impact on the economy will continue until such a time that we are able to produce more energy that can carter for all, otherwise the businesses will continue to struggle especially the small scale businesses."
Abdullahi said there were ongoing projects to boost distribution in the four states, when completed.
"The distribution areas we have in Kaduna, Kebbi and Sokoto and Kebbi have been completed but are yet to be commissioned.
"Once they are commissioned they will add to what the states are receiving from the distribution company and that will boost power supply in the zone.''
On decentralisation of power distribution, the manager said there was nothing wrong with the current arrangement.
He said the unbundling of the power sector by the Federal Government was done in good fate, "even though it cannot be said to be 100 per cent successful''.
"The idea of bringing private investors into the sector is a good step in the right direction and it is to move the sector forward.
"It is the standard practice all over the world, as all developed countries involve the private sector in power management.''
The Kano Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO) providing electricity to Jigawa, Kano and Katsina states also expressed concern over the dwindling power allocation to the company from the National Grid.
The Managing Director, Alhaji Jamil Gwamna, lamented that the allocation was grossly inadequate to cater for the numerous customers in the three states.
"We are being allocated with between 40 and 30 megawatts and sometimes it is zero allocation,’’ he said.
According to him, out of the allocation, 30 megawatts must always go to Niger Republic directly , leaving the company with nothing to distribute to its customers in the three states.
"The allocation for Kano is very low and the situation is very pathetic and disturbing.
"If the situation continues the way it is going now, the entire system will collapse,’’ he said.
He accused system operators and Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) of not treating Kano fairly.
"We are not being treated fairly by the system operator and TCN,’’ he said, and appealed to customers in the three states to bear with the company.
Also commenting on the issue, Alhaji Bello Ibrahim, the Head of Product and Marketing Development Department, Nigerian Export Promotion Council, said the 3,000 megawatts
Generated nationwide was grossly inadequate in a country of 180 million.
"There is inadequate generation, lack of maintenance of facilities, insufficient funding of power stations, obsolete equipment as well as low morale of staff.
"The power allocated to discos is inadequate hence the rationing which have negative impact on industries because the cost of their production is too high which results to the use of diesel as an alternative.''
He noted that following the poor power supply being experienced, many companies have closed down because they could not withstand the situation.
"The same scenario applies to other economic sectors or activities,'' he said.
He added that oil production had dropped due to the activities of vandals which also affected the supply of gas to power stations because they were generating electricity at very sub optimal level.
"This, however, results to substantial decline in revenue generation, high cost of production of goods and services due to high cost of energy.
According to him, hydrothermal contributes greatly to National grid, while coal, solar and wind contributions are very insignificant.
He added that the unbundling of PHCN had affected national economy negatively because many people lost their jobs due to privatisation which had a multiplier effect on the economy.
He said that the impact of energy shortage on the economy had resulted to low output in production that also affected companies' effective utilisation of their machines.
He stressed the need for state governments to focus on the establishment of independent power projects to reduce over dependence on discos.
"The Kano State Independent Power Project is set to generate power supply to meet the energy needs of the people.’’