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One too many promises for power supply? If you are used to holding your breath over false hopes, here is another reason to do so. The federal government today signed a 10 billion dollars deal with General Electric (GE) to build new power plants in the country. General Electric is expected to have a 10-15 per cent equity stake in the power plants even though the type of plant to be built has not been made known. If prior trends are anything to go by this deal would only ever, as always, look good on paper and that would be it. The reason behind this is simple; the people in charge of providing electricity just don’t care enough to do so. One cannot be expected to understand the plight which the absence of power supply brings when never personally experienced. This is a further step towards the privatisation of the failed power sector. At present the power need of Nigeria is not met by what is generated. Nigeria has an abundant reserve of gas and as a result is out to build gas-powered stations that would be well served. We have the seventh-largest reserve of gas in the world yet power generation seems almost a mirage. The constant and needless delay in privatising Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) leaves one wondering as to the professed seriousness and commitment in changing the fortunes of the sector. Several deadlines to privatise PHCN have come and gone with no cogent reason given for the delay, now understood to be stalling. President Goodluck Jonathan revealed the power privatisation plans 18 months ago as part of his vision 20:20:20 and promised state power generation and distribution assets would be sold off last year. He has not delivered on this promise. The only laudable move, as it were, from the president is the move to allow states and local government generate and produce their power, if they can. This was as a result of the rule made by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC). It doesn’t take a genius to realise that power is key to Nigeria’s economic growth and transformation. The sooner this is addressed, the better for us all and the country. There are plans to contract the management in charge of transmitting electricity from power stations to substations and privatise the six power generation plants as well as the eleven distribution firms, which service individual users. Manitoba Hydro of Canada and state-owned Power Grid of India have been short-listed for the transmission management contract. Nigeria was hoping to produce 6,000 megawatts of power by the end of this year, up from 4,000 but still a far cry from the 40,000 megawatts needed. There is a vacuum in communication between those in government and the governed which is further expanded daily. They seem oblivious to the challenges in society and remain unapologetic for being obtuse. There has been so much talk about power reform and which most Nigerians are tired of hearing about it. Power reform would only be deemed so when there is electricity and would be talked about in retrospect as ought to. Sadly now, as much as this talk wants to be believed, no one should hold their breath.  
About the Author Edward Chizea Nwosisi is a writer for He has a background in Law

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This article was first published on 27th March 2012

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