There are several ways of generating electricity such as using: Gas – Nigeria has it. Fossil fuel – Nigeria has it. Coal – Nigeria has it. Biomass – Nigeria has it. Wind – Nigeria has it. Hydro – Nigeria has the water for it. Nuclear – Nigeria has the Uranium for it. Solar – Nigeria has the sun for it. So why exactly is it that sixty years after Independence Nigeria remains so badly unelectrified? What is the source of the permanent under-development of the territory called Nigeria?
We do not need to look far for the answer to these important questions as observers, including experts on electricity, law and jurisprudence point us to the 1999 Nigeria Constitution. Nigerians are living witnesses (or rather, victims) that without electricity access is denied to modernity, to technology, and to 21st Century living. So this issue of non-availability of electricity in Nigeria in 2020 is a serious matter and parents especially, ought to be concerned about the kind of existence they are giving their children to inherit.
The Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution parts 1 and 2 are the ones that chiefly concern electricity. Part 1 is the Exclusive List of 68 items that are solely under government control. Although “Electricity” is not directly mentioned here by name, item number 67 is so broad as to capture many infrastructural matters as it states:
“67. Any other matter with respect to which the National Assembly has power to make laws in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution”.
Going down to part 2 of this same Second Schedule is the Concurrent List that describes BOTH Federal and State powers where we find:
“13. The NATIONAL ASSEMBLY [my emphasis] may make laws for the Federation or any part thereof with respect to-
(a) electricity and the establishment of electric power stations;
(b) the generation and transmission of electricity in or to any part of the Federation and from one State to another State; (c) the regulation of the right of any person or authority to dam up or otherwise interfere with the flow of water from sources in any part of the Federation;
(d) the participation of the Federation in any arrangement with another country for the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity for any area partly within and partly outside the Federation;
(f) the regulation of the right of any person or authority to use, work or operate any plant, apparatus, equipment or work designed for the supply or use of electrical energy.
Even though States can also legislate regarding electricity, Federal laws supersede. Thus, the 2005 Electric Power Sector Reform Act with Sections 8, 65 and 66 empowers Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) to take charge of transmission of electricity throughout Nigeria. Although after the partial privatisation of the electricity sector there are GenCos (electricity generating companies) and DisCos (electricity distribution companies) still via TCN the Federal government controls the national grid through which electricity must pass. Thus, through a complex web of laws, the 1999 Constitution puts the power of electrification of Nigeria in the hands of the Federal government.
A key source of information for this article is “Power Devolution and Electricity Transmission in Nigeria: A Study in Resources Mobilization for Economic Development” Conference Paper · May 2018 by Obiora, C. A., Chiamogu, A. P., and Chiamogu, U. P. (2019) in Advances in Social Sciences Research Journal – Vol.6, No.4. This academic paper explains how disabling and obstructive the 1999 Constitution is for the electrification of Nigeria. Basically, even if there is a town with capable engineers who can generate electricity for the townspeople, they will not be able to, so citizens and businesses must suffer the destructive consequences of electricity lack.
From the paper referred to above, we learn that,
“The existing transmission system is only capable of delivering about 5,300MW… This is as a result of Nigeria’s current weak transmission infrastructure…”
Furthermore, please Nigerians note this well,
“It has been estimated that developing economies would need about 1000MW per million people to meet their electricity demand…”
A simple calculation shows that Nigeria with a population of over 200 million needs over 200,000MW of electricity. In May this year we learned that the Federal government had done a deal with Siemens to provide 25,000MW by 2025. Yet, with a fast ballooning population we can all clearly see that 25,000MW in 2025 (even if it is achieved in Nigeria’s highly corrupt environment) will NOT advance Nigeria!
Carelessly, my generation has lived with electricity lack and developmental retardation because we chose to submit ourselves under an anti-development Constitution that is a known forgery, for “We the people” did not produce it, nor did a Referendum on it occur. The aim of this article is to further caution Nigerians and especially young people that living under this Constitution WILL NOT WORK! If not scrapped, this same fraudulent 1999 Constitution will also deprive another generation of young Nigerians from living an intelligent, exciting life filled with the technology that electricity enables, and which their counterparts in modern countries easily enjoy.
“It is absolutely impossible for Nigeria to be a rewarding venture for its constituent units and its frustrated, subjugated and degraded citizens.” – Remi Oyeyemi.
An Alternative Culture of “doing the right thing” and “doing the right thing the right way” is the only culture that will turn this territory around. It is therefore of UTMOST importance, and should be our PRIORITY now, to discard the sham 1999 Constitution and replace it with a truly “We the people” pro-development social contract.
Kuumba, the 6th Principle of Kwanzaa, signifies: To do always as much as we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it. So Nigerian parents, your children need to see your love for them in action. They are saying to you,
“Our house is on fire. Your inaction is fuelling the flames by the hour and we are telling you to act as if you loved your children above all else” – Greta Thunberg
We should do the right thing that will make Nigeria “more BEAUTIFUL and BENEFICIAL than we inherited it”. It is by putting this land on a just and fair foundation with a “We the people” Constitution.