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Obasanjo blames Jonathan, others for power sector decay

A former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has blamed his successors for the rot in the power sector.

The former President said that the country needed to generate 2,000 megawatts every year for the citizens to enjoy stable electricity.

Obasanjo, after his second coming as a civilian president, handed over to the late former President Umaru Yar’Adua in 2007 while President Goodluck Jonathan assumed office after the death of Yar’Adua in May, 2010.

The former President, spoke at a programme tagged ‘First Green Legacy Moment with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo on Leadership and Human Security in Africa’, which held in Abeokuta.

He said subsequent administrations after his reign as military ruler between 1976 and 1979 did nothing on power generation until he returned in 1999.

According to him, leaders in the country lack the political will to confront national challenges.

He said, “Part of our problems is lack of political will on the part of the leaders. What does a leader understands about development? Any leader worth his salt should know that power is very important. It is the driver of all developments, be it social, economic, and even political.

“When I was military head of state, I developed the Jebba Dam, I developed Shiroro, I started Egbin. (Ex-President Shehu)Shagari came and completed Egbin and commissioned Jebba and Shiroro.

“Between Shagari in 1983, until I came back in 1999, there was no single dime invested in power generation. If anything, the ones that were there were allowed to go down.”

Maj-Gen Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) came into power on December 31, 1983 after Shagari was overthrown in a military coup. Buhari himself was shoved out in 1985 by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, who stepped aside in 1993 following the tension that greeted his annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, won by Bashorun Moshood Abiola.

Ernest Shonekan, head of the Interim National Government, and late dictator Sani Abacha followed while power was transferred to Gen. Abdulsalami Abubaka on the death of Abacha in 1998. It was Abdusalami that handed over again to Obasanjo as a civilian president in 1999.

Obasanjo said, “A country like Nigeria must be adding not less than 2,000 megawatts every year if we are to be moving on the path of development.

“If you will remember, when I came back in 1999, my first Minister of Power was late Bola Ige. I won’t say Bola didn’t know what he was doing and he said publicly that he would fix the power problems in six months.

“After one year, Bola with his capacity couldn’t fathom what was wrong with power. It was riddled with corruption. Then we had no money. People have forgotten that in 1999/2000, the price of crude oil was US $9 per barrel. So, I wanted the oil companies, Mobil, Total and they wouldn’t go.

“When we started having money, we started the National Integrated Power Plant. When we said the money we had should be invested in power, my successor didn’t understand; he stopped it. If for almost 20 years we did not achieve anything in power generation, then we may not be able to get it again.”

Obasanjo, who cited South Africa as an example, said with its population of 55 million people, SA generated 45,000 megawatts, while Nigeria with about 180 million people could not generate 4, 000 megawatts.

He said, “For us to say that we are industrialising country, we must be generating much more than what South Africa is generating, say 100,000 megawatts.

“What year will Nigeria get there if we are adding 2,000 megawatts each year? For us to get to 100,000 mega watts, I leave the mathematics to you. It sounds very discouraging but that is the reality.”


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