The history of electricity in Nigeria can be dated back to the end of 19th century when the first generating plant was installed in Lagos in 1898. From then until 1950, the pattern of electricity development was in the form of individual electricity power undertaking scattered all over the towns. Some of the few undertakings were Federal Government bodies under the Public Works Dept, some by the Native Authorities and others by the Municipal Authorities.
ELECTRICITY CORPORATION OF NIGERIA (ECN) By 1950, in order to integrate electricity power development and make it effective, the then colonial Government passed the ECN ordinance No. 15 of 1950. With this ordinance in place, the electricity department and all those undertakings which were controlled came under one body. The ECN and the Niger Dam Authority (NDA) were merged to become the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) with effect from 1st April 1972. The actual merger did not take place until 6th January 1973 when the first General Manager was appointed. Despite problems faced by the NEPA, the Authority played effective role in the nation’s socio-economic development thereby steering Nigeria into a greater industrial society. The success story is a result of careful planning and hard work. The statutory function of the Authority is to develop and maintain an efficient co-ordinate and economical system of electricity supply throughout the Federation.
Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), formerly known as National Electric Power Authority (NEPA), was founded in 2005 during the leadership of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. The president, had thought that the change in name from NEPA to PHCN would bring positive changes to the company without changing the people managing its affairs but the change in name brings doom, corruption and in efficiency. As its name implies, the company HOLDS power frequently and releases it to Nigerians for not more than 5 hours out of the 24 hours in a day. Many Nigerians have been disappointed by the company in such a way that several times the company’s off ices have been set ablaze because she, in her characteristics manners is found of disrupting power whenever a good programme especially football matches which most Nigerians love is on the air or is about to be aired.
Nigeria as a country has never celebrated 10 hours of interrupted power supply whereas countries like Ghana, Benin Republic just to mention few have celebrated years of un-interrupted power supply. PHCN is saddled with a responsibility as one of its duties to provide the communities with transformers but communities do that by themselves to avoid being left in darkness. Many communities have even contributed huge amount of money to PHCN for transformers and up till now, they have not been provided. A lot of communities are in darkness. There are some areas in which Power has to be rotated. A lot of people have lost their lives through PHCN cables which expose the lives of people to danger. PHCN lacks maintenance culture.
The Economic and Financial crimes commission (EFCC) and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) recently raised the alarm that bribe payment to government officials by businesses in the country is on the increase. They claimed that the Police, POWER HOLDING COMPANY OF NIGERIA (PHCN) and the Nigeria customs service are still leading the corruption chart. Among these evil geniuses, I do not know who top the Nigerian corruption chart. Imagine, these days, PHCN officials do not bother as they used to do in those days to come to houses to read meters before giving out bills to their consumers. What they do now is to check the number of people leaving in a particular house or look at the structure of the house whether it is a Duplex, Bedroom flat or a Bungalow. The structure of the house determines the amount of PHCN Bills to pay. The more beautiful the house looks like, the higher the bills to pay. To worsen the situation, any time there is stability of power for just a week or two weeks (including power interruption), PHCN men will flood the streets disconnecting the power source of whoever owns her. The Company will fail to take into cognisance the weeks and Months she has disowned and discomfort her customers form enjoying their rights. Moreover, whenever the members of staff of PHCN are on their mission field of disconnection task, most of these guys prefer settlement (Bribery) to the real assigned task.
The epilepsy of PHCN can also be attributed to Government’s inability to perform her own role in the saga. It is very disheartening, disgust and embarrassing to note that Nigeria (the so called Giant of Africa) with a population of more than 150 million people cannot boast of 6,000 megawatts of power generation. Whereas countries like Ghana, South Africa, Cameroun, Benin Republic, etc which population is not up to 100 million generate more than 6,000 megawatts of electricity. Where is our pride as a Nation? Where is our pride as the Giant of Africa? Lagos Terminal station, Egbin Power Station as at December last year generated 500 megawatts of power supply, Jebba Hydro Power station generated 430MW, Kainji generated 409MW, Shiroro 299MW, Delta power station supplied 244MW and Sapele power station was unable to supply anything due to inavalability of Gas. Afam IV generated 49MW while Shell Afam VI generated 441MW just to mention few. These power generations are not enough to meet the power consumed by the people in all these areas and that explains the epilepsy being experienced in power supply.
When Obasanjo came to power in 1999, he said that Power stability would be one of his priorities. He said this, spent billions of Dollars to make this a reality but to know avail. Late Musa Yar’adua took over in 2007, he set a 7-point agenda for himself and for the country in which Power was one of its priorities but within 3 years he stayed in office before his demise, nothing to show for it. Good Luck Jonathan succeeded him. He also vows to tackle Electricity problem among many things to do for the Nation and make the 6,000 megawatts a reality. Nigerians have folded their arms and still expecting miracle on this. Or can we say this country is under a cause?
Nigeria is facing the same problem in every sphere of her life. Wrong people are always put in the right places. Nigeria ways of doing thing are intonated and inferred politically. How can we put somebody who does not know anything about electricity, somebody who is not an Engineer to manage our power source? Every appointment is done on political bases. This will not help us as a nation. It will not allow the country to grow especially as we prepare for our 50th Independence anniversary.
Again for obvious reasons, re-branding Nigeria initiative should start from PHCN, Police and Nigeria Customs. These triplets are denting the image of our beloved country. The right and qualified people should be employed to work in these companies. Most of the people employed by PHCN on fields are touts. These are road side electricians who learnt this job from unqualified personnel. They never graduated from their masters because of eagerness to make quick money. They have no education, no manner of approach, no regard to anybody and they lack culture. These guys should be trained before they are sent out for disconnection mission. Nigerian Government should privatise PHCN. I am of the opinion that if this is done, Nigerians will have value for their money; good, durable and stable services will be provided which will stand the test of time. Though, it might be expensive, Nigerians will not mind so far it is stable and of good quality.