Decentralizing the Electricity Business; Which way Fashola & Amaechi?
One of the reasons why Rotimi Amaechi fell out with Goodluck Jonathan back them was because of electricity transmission.
As at the time Rotimi Amaechi was Governor of Rivers State, Rivers state had already completed three gas driven independent power plants (IPP) projects!
Even before Lagos state built its first power plant, Rivers state had already built two! The first attempt by Tinubu was jeopardized by NEPA.
With the money spent on power generation and the number of power plants built, Rivers State had no reason not to have 24/7 power supply. I am talking of about eight years ago! But there was a problem.
What then was the problem?
According to the present (then) arrangement, states do not have the “right” to transmit electricity but they can generate and distribute. How do you generate what you cannot transmit?
Amaechi felt his brother Goodluck could help him overcome this challenge and make Rivers state become the first state to make history. Jonathan agreed to help Rivers state but did nothing. All attempt to get Jonathan to so something about the law failed. Amaechi became disappointed.
Amaechi was frustrated. Trans Amadi power plant, for example, had it’s electricity trapped, even up till today.
What kind of law would allow me generate electricity but will not let me transmit? Amaechi queried.
Fashola had the same challenge in Lagos state but found a way to play around the law and provided electricity for only public institutions. Even when the Lagos state power plants had excess electricity, it could not give it to Lagosians.
When Amaechi saw that investing in electricity was a mistake (debatable) that brought no direct benefit to Rivers people, at the tail end of his administration, he decided to sell ALL the state owned power plants and disappeared with the monies! Rivers state government under Wike is still looking for the proceeds of the sales! That is by the way.
When Buhari defeated Jonathan and Fashola became Minister of Power, I was optimistic.
Fashola, as governor of Lagos state, was able to power public institutions in Lagos state through a decentralized system which the existing law allows.
I was hoping that he would have seen the beauty of decentralization and would implement same as Minister at the federal level.
In fact, when Fashola (as opposition) said a serious government would fix power in six months, I believed him because I was hoping that he meant that decentralization would fix the electricity problem by allowing the state governments to take full control of the sector. The process of handing over can truly be done in six months if the will is there!
Both Fashola and Amaechi have spent three years at the federal level. None has ever supported decentralization again. I see Fashola working very hard to support improvement in the centralized electricity arrangement.
The former governor of Delta state by the name Emmanuel Uduagha spent (fraudulently) over 20billion building a power plant (which he still did not complete). The project is now a liability. Today, the present governor is about to sell the same uncompleted power plant.
The truth is that, with the FG sitting on the electricity industry, the industry will remain unprofitable and highly subsidized and corrupt.
I still believe (just like former Fashola and Amaechi) that complete decentralization is the key to solving the electricity problem in Nigeria.
In my community in Delta state, we have had uninterrupted power supply for close to five years now. We are not connected to the national grid. And the electricity is even free. Yes, in this same Nigeria. If an IOC can give us uninterrupted power for years through a decentralized system, why has the FG been unable to give just one city (not state oh) uninterrupted power for just one month through its centralized system?
I heard that Ambode is seeking approval from the FG to allow Lagos state government build a 3,000MW embedded electricity project in the state? Why do we need such an approval for a basic need like electricity.
Why is Fashola and Amaechi no longer pushing for what they once believed to be the solution to our electricity problem?
Please don’t come here to ask me how states that cannot pay salaries will be able to build power plants. If your state government cannot survive under a restructured Nigeria, please merge with your neighboring state or allow yourself to be annexed by a richer and bigger state.
A state government that cannot pay it’s own police, civil service and cannot build power plants should not be existing as a state government in the first place. Such state governments are part of the mistakes we are trying to correct through restructuring.
In the first place, we (Nigeria) do not need 36 unsustainable and unproductive state governments to run an efficient country.