One of the reasons Nigeria is the poverty capital of the world is that the country of more than 200 million people lacks viable sources of energy to produce, create employment and take care of its citizens.
Successive administrations have utterly failed to provide electric power supply. The 16 years of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, rule could not take the expansion of power production beyond 6,000 megawatts and 4,500 megawatts actual maximum output.
After seven years in power, the Muhammadu Buhari regime has not done any better, while resorting to propaganda to explain its failure. This year alone, the national grid has collapsed a record five times, with power generation dropping to 1,145mw in May 2022.
The case of oil-related energy is no better. Fully deregulated diesel sells for over N600 per litre in most parts of the country, threatening the survival of manufacturing plants, with attendant mass job losses. The cost of aviation fuel has risen by 121.4 per cent to N620-N700 per litre this month. Cooking gas now goes for above N12,000 for the 12.5kg cylinder.
It is only a matter of time for petrol, which government is subsiding with over N5trn till June next year, moves from N165 toward the N200 mark. Kerosene is no longer within reach of the poor who depend on it for their cooking.
The saddest part of it all is that President Buhari is the Minister of Petroleum Resources. He has failed to justify personally handling this portfolio. During the Olusegun Obasanjo regime, he also handled the Petroleum Ministry, yet billions went down the drain in his failed turnaround maintenance of the refineries. Buhari has only duplicated the failure and wastage of humongous funds.
This unfortunate picture of the energy sector is reflected in other sectors, such as security and the general economy. Yet, the Buhari government keeps making claims that Nigeria is better today than it met it.
We really need genuine change in 2023. If we continue in this template, the failure cannot be remedied. There is very little to expect from government except more of the same. The question really is, how many Nigerians can hold on till tomorrow comes?
What is really happening to the myriads of modular refineries that have reportedly been completed? In May 2020, three modular refineries were pronounced ready for commissioning. In 2021, Rivers State Government announced it had obtained waivers for 15 new modular refineries. The 50,000bpd Waltersmith modular refinery in Imo State was commissioned last year.
Why are they not helping to mitigate the diesel shortage? What is hampering Dangote Refinery from opening shop?
From 2023 henceforth, we must drop the idea of presidents making themselves Petroleum Ministers. It is highly unaccountable. Those who have held this portfolio should still be called to account even after office.