The Managing Director of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company, Olufunke Osibodu, has urged Nigerians not to expect any improvement in the power sector in the next five years.
Speaking at the 11th Annual Founder’s Day event of the American University of Nigeria in Yola, Saturday, Mrs. Osibodu said at least N250 billion is required annually to fix the country’s electricity sector.
“And we Nigerians need to understand that we cannot do it overnight, and in addition we have to pay for it,” said Mrs. Osibodu, while delivering the keynote speech titled ‘Beyond Oil: Sustainable Development for All Nigerians.
“We need to be ready as citizens also, to accept and live with the pain that we have to go through, and allow time as our friends.
“As Nigerians, often we are the ones that deceive our politicians. The politicians believe that the only way to go is to promise everything immediately possible. Promise that everything is possible today so that they can get elected. But when you see that it is not, so we want to give them time and use time as our friends.
“It is the same story for the power industry. When I tell my friends, that forget any improvement for the next five years, they are scared, but that is the truth. We need minimum of five years to invest before we see results.
“But very often, because Nigerians are impatient, we start pushing our governments and they start reversing good things they have done in various ways. So we need to be more patient.”
Mrs. Osibodu’s statements came despite the claim earlier in the year by Babatunde Fashola, the minister of Power, Works, and Housing, that the country would attain 10,000 megawatts electricity generation by 2019.
Apart of challenges of generation, Nigeria also has problems of transmission and distribution of the generated electricity.
According to Mrs. Osibodu, Nigeria is currently producing two percent of the total electricity it requires.
“In addition, in this country we have 32 million household population. In other words, 32 million houses by statistics. But on the national grid, only four million are officially customers of the various distribution companies.
“About 36 per cent of the power generation is lost either through commercial theft, illegal consumption, or non-payment of bills. But 14 per cent of that power is also lost through very poor network.
“In other words, the two percent that we have is even further played down. About 30 percent of the power, we all waste it, by forgetting to put out the light, many things that should not be turned on, and we pay for that wastage.”