Gas is key to unlocking power sector, says Prof. Nebo

Prof.-Chinedu-Nebo

Former Minister of Power, Professor Chinedu Nebo says the federal government cannot actualize the target of providing stable electricity in Nigeria without first ensuring the provision of gas supply to the power stations.

Nebo made the disclosure during an award ceremony in his honour. According to him, not surmounting the gas supply challenge remains one of the darkest points of his tenure as Power Minister. He said: “I tell you, if President Buhari were to win the gas war today, within two weeks, every Nigerian will be celebrating him, because what President Jonathan has put in place for the power sector, is so immense that within a few weeks, if you get all these turbines fired up, instead of operating on 30 or 40 percent capacity, all of them fired up, every Nigerian will know the difference. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the privilege of winning the gas war. And that is my greatest regret, is that we didn’t win the war against vandalism and against inadequate gas supply.”

The former Vice Chancellor of the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), advised the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to take decisive actions to be able to solve gas vandalism and gas producers’ quagmire. “I do think that to win the gas war, Mr. President [ Buhari], will have to do whatever it takes to stem the tide of vandalism of gas and oil pipelines as well as induce producers of gas to produce gas.”

The former Minister said that the privatization programme under Goodluck Jonathan administration was a huge success except that its gains are yet to begin reaching end users. “When you have this privatisation, people don’t know what has happened. Within this privatisation, Egbin Power Station that has 220 megawatts cannot operate because of gas. Ughelli has added over 400 megawatts, much of which remains inoperable because lack of supply of gas.”

He explained that privatisation alone has brought Nigeria to a place where the power sector can comfortably deliver 7,000megawatts to Nigeria if the gas were available. “Even in the hydros, a lot of revamping of the hydro turbines has already taken place. So, we all will have to continue to pray.”

According to the ex-minister, transmission remains a key challenge that must be tackled for Nigeria to resolve the power sector crisis. “We are only limited by transmission, to make the 6,000megawatts. But we can make the 7,000 megawatts if we had the transmission,” he noted.

Nebo argued that embedded power generation remained one of the most robust and effective option for providing constant electricity for the country. “I want to assure all of you that Nigeria will win the power war. There is no doubt in my mind. We’ve been pushing for embedded power generation. That’s the way to go. Most of these big power plants take years of gestation to realisation. Embedded generation can give you, 1,000, 2,000 megawatts whereas the big plants will not give you that in five to six years. We’re pushing for that and we hope that the present administration will continue. And the only way to do embedded generation is through privatisation”, he said.  He urged Nigerian leaders to think outside the box to be able to effectively tackle the power problem.

By Olisemeka Obeche

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