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Nigeria Plans Bottom-Up, Off-Grid Strategy To Revamp Power Sector, Says Minister 

“We are not joking with the power sector this time around. It must work. Any country that is serious about realising the potential of its people must provide energy.”

The Minister of Power, Chief Adebayo Adelabu, on Monday said the federal government plans to adopt a bottom-up approach to ensure Nigeria has adequate supply of power in the not-so-distant future, as opposed to the top-to-bottom strategy adopted by his predecessors.

The minister spoke in Abuja at a roundtable for the legislature, judiciary and other stakeholders in the power industry on emerging issues, especially on the re-enactment of the Electricity Act, 2023.

It was themed, “Engagement on the Enforcement of Technical Standards and Regulations in the Multi-tier Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI)” and was organised by the Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA).

Adelabu argued that what the nation has always lacked is not competent engineers to get the work done, but the political will and the right leadership to drive improvement in power supply.

“What we need is the political will and I have it. We might be lightweight as individuals but with the backing of the president who has resolved that we must reap the dividends of democracy, it can be done.

“My strategy is a bottom-up approach in the electricity sector. Many ministers have been on the job but focusing on generation. What is power generation if it’s not delivered to the users. It’s useless. It’s like winking in the dark because the customer does not know what we are doing,” he stressed.

According to the minister, more focus will now also be given to hydro and off-grid electricity supply sources, to reduce the pressure on the national grid.

While stressing that infrastructure was important to do this, the minister stated that NEMSA must ensure that critical world class parts and quality materials are brought into the country, describing their work as important.

“We are not joking with the power sector this time around. It must work. We don’t have any choice. Any country that is serious about realising the potential of its people must provide energy, otherwise they will remain potential,” he added.

Adelabu stated that currently, Korea generates about 130,000 mw of power and distributes the same, while China generates and wheels up to 1.3 million mw of power, stressing that with focus, the power sector in Nigeria can be turned around.

“I am not  an engineer. But our problem is not engineering. We use imported technology which have been tested and are working elsewhere. The problem is leadership, focus and commitment,” he added.

He explained that one of the major fallouts of the amendment to the Electricity Act, 2023 is the “devolution of powers” to the sub-nationals, to enact their own electricity laws across the value chain.

Describing it as a game-changer, he noted that at the last count, not less than five states had enacted their own laws, hence the imperative for the members of the executive, legislature, and judiciary at the centre and the sub-nationals to collaborate.

On his part, the Managing Director of NEMSA and Chief Electrical Inspector of the Federation, Aliyu Tahir, said the enforcement of technical standards and regulations remains a critical aspect in managing the growth of the electricity industry.

He explained that it helps to ensure that all electrical installations deployed in the sector meet the required technical standards, regulations and specifications to ensure that such systems are capable of delivering safe and reliable power.

“To effectively achieve its core mandate of enforcement, NEMSA, as at today, has 19 Inspectorate Field Offices (IFO), six national meter test stations and one engineering and chemical laboratory.

“The agency already has plans to open meter test stations in the North-east and North-central geopolitical zones of the country whenever there is approved fund for the project,” he said.

He explained that in the course of carrying out its mandate in the power sector in the past few years, the agency had met with resistance on several occasions.

One of the reasons for such resistance, he said, was attributed to lack of adequate knowledge about the agency’s mandate in the industry by the relevant stakeholders, thereby prompting the one-day programme.

Also speaking, a former Board Chairman of NEMSA, Suleiman Yahaya, begged the federal government to provide adequate funding for NEMSA to allow the agency to perform its mandate of enforcement of technical standards.

“NEMSA should also increase its charges and rates upwards to shore up NEMSA’s internally generated revenues to sustainably support the power sector,” he said.

Former Permanent Secretary in the ministry of power, Dr Godknows Igali; ex-Chairman, House Committee on Power, Patrick Ikhariale; former Chairman, Senate Committee on Power, Philip Aduda and incumbent Chairman of the Committee , Eyinnaya Abaribe were also present at the event.

Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja

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