Implications of destroying Nigeria’s power installations
EnergyDay Editorial Board
The axiom, “All is fair in love and war”, attributed to John Lyly, the English Elizabethan poet, appears to have taken the central stage in the North East region of Nigeria where the insurgent activities of Boko Haram and its affiliates are targeting a destruction of major infrastructure especially energy related ones.
Worst still, the recent extension of this dubious exercise of wanton destruction of public utilities to the North Central region, precisely Niger state, calls for a serious concern; moreso as it relates to the Nation’s economy.
There’s no doubting the fact that the energy sector particularly power supply and electricity distribution is the life of the economy.
Thus, when it becomes a target of attacks , as it has become in recent months in the hands of terrorist group, it portents grave danger to the state and the economy, hence every patriotic citizen and institution must condemn same.
It’s no longer news that electricity and telecommunication infrastructure in Maiduguri, capital of Borno state has continued to be under serious target by the insurgents thus living residents with no option but to provide personal electricity or stay in perpetual darkness.
The pain of entrepreneurs in such environment is better imagined than experienced.
While the insurgents see the destruction of these national assets as a war tool to perhaps scare citizens or government to submission, the inherent danger of their actions is huge.
While we’re not holding brief for the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) the firm responsible for the transportation of electricity across the country and the Yola Electricity Distribution Company, in their efforts to restore electricity infrastructure in the state when destroyed during attacks initiated by the insurgents, the frequency of these attacks leaves no one in doubt that the situation may soon become overwhelming.
For instance, it’s on record that on January 17, 2021 the capital city came under attack living two transmission towers completly destroyed.
As if that was not enough, another attack was launched in March barely few days after the transmission network was repaired and power restored following a previous incident.
Suffice to say that following the latest destruction of the electricity installations by the insurgents, Maiduguri and its environs has since then been thrown
into pitch darkness, the city is still in grip of power outages.
Maiduguri generally presumed to have a population of about two million, but likely now higher due to the influx of persons displaced by fighting between Nigerian security forces and the insurgents is in darkness.
This huge population and businesses have had to suffer losses as a result of the development.
As if choreographed attacks on electricity installations may be the new focus of the insurgents, recent reports have suggested that about five local governments, including Shiroro, where a huge hydro-power plant is installed are under the control of the Boko Haram insurgents who are gradually extending their territorial control beyond the North East.
EnergyDay finds it frightening that the insurgents control five local governments where they have reportedly hoisted their flags.
The implications are even more frightening, as it suggests that not only the Shiroro Hydroelectric Power Station with installed capacity of 600 MW, is under the control of the insurgents, Jebba, which is also in Niger State may be under pressure and threat too, given that Shiroro is just about 70 kilometers to Jebba, where Jebba Power Plant with an installed capacity of 578 MW is located.
Kainji Hydroelectric Power station which also has installed capacity of 760 MW, is part of Niger State, and barely about 80 kilometers from Shiroro.
The contributions of these three power stations to the national grid cannot be over emphasized, and it would be disastrous if the ongoing surge of the insurgents is not checked. The implication is the spectre of total darkness for huge chunks of the country.
We recall that in a well reported press conference on April 26, Niger State Governor Abubakar Sani Bello announced that Boko Haram militants had taken over several towns in Shiroro and Munya Local Government Areas (LGAs), hoisting their flag over Kaure village in Shiroro following attacks on April 24-25.
The governor claimed that at least 50 communities across Shiroro and Munya have been attacked .
Only recently too, another calamity of immense proportion was visited on electriticity installations this time in PortHarcourt, Rivers State capital last month.
Media reported that a massive explosion hit a transformer of Transmission Company of Nigeria’s (TCN) transmission station in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital plunging most parts of the Port Harcourt metropolis into severe power outages.
Most affected parts of the metropolis were reportedly Rumuokwuta, NTA road, Rumuola road, Ikwerre road from Wimpey junction to Rumuigbo junction, some parts of Ada George, GRA Phases 1, 2, & 3, Oroworukwo community, Olu Obasanjo Road, some parts of Rumukalagbor, some parts of Rumuibekwe, Rumuola under the flyover bridge, Rumuola link road, and some parts of Stadium Road among others.
This medium is miffed at the fact that the attack was not evidently from Boko Haram but from the Niger Delta militants. This ,it would seem was a new flank in the war against electricity installations across the country by non state actors who are fast turning the country into turmoil as they make to carve out areas of influence for themselves.
Consequently, the energy sector should represent a key priority for the government to protect from such attacks, yet large parts of the country still suffer from repeated energy outages and blackouts, some even lasting for days as a result of the insurgency.
According to World Bank figures, 59,3 per cent of the population had access to electricity in 2016. Between January and June 2017, most Nigerians only enjoyed between 7 and 9 hours of daily power supply. These figures suggest low level of power supply to end-users. This low may further be disrupted by the activities of the insurgents.
We are aware of this new threat to electricity installations coming from Niger Delta militants in Creeks. They are as threatening to the national grid as the disruptions wrought by non state actors as Boko Haram.
To put this into perspective, such spectre means that Nigeria may be plunged into darkness if the activities of the insurgents are not checked.
Government needs to do more in the area of security for energy installations, even as it seems to find lasting solutions to challenges in the sector.
EnergyDay is worried that all these budgetary allocations and private sector investment in the power industry may amount to nothing if the enormous threat posed to electricity installations and the national grid itself is not checked, given the increasing audacity and acquisition of sophisticated state of the art ammunition reportedly in the hands of the insurgents.
The electricity system suffers from several problems at different levels of supply. These range from the lack of maintenance and repair, to leakages in power transmission and distribution and innumerable cases of energy theft and acts of vandalism. The poor state of lighting system also represents a threat to personal safety, and a much bigger threat to the economy still recovering from recession.
This is the more reason government should act now to protect energy installations. The time to curb the threat posed by the continued destruction of infrastructure especially electricity related is now.