Despite huge budgetary allocations to the power sector from one administration to another, Nigerians have continued to spend their hard-earned money, running into billions of naira, on installation of solar-powered energy.
One of the major issues Nigerians are battling is perennial epileptic power supply by distribution companies across the country.
It is therefore not a surprise that many of the citizens have resorted to using solar energy.
Successive administrations since the beginning of the fourth republic in 1999- Olusegun Obasanjo (1999-2007), Umar Musa Yar’Adua (2007-2010) Goodluck Jonathan (2010-2015) and Muhammadu Buhari (2015-2023) have taken several steps to confront the challenges militating against the power sector.
The different administrations have spent billions of naira revamping the sector in a bid to ensure stable electricity across the country.
Our correspondent recalls that the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) in 2017 disclosed how over N11 trillion meant for the provision of electricity supply was allegedly squandered by the Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan administrations.
Several policies and reforms have also been introduced to tackle the problem in the power sector. One of the reforms was the privatisation of the power sector in 2013.
The regional electricity distribution companies that were formally owned and controlled by the government were sold to private individuals as part of the steps taken in reforming the sector.
The regional electricity distribution companies across the country include: Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC) Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company (IKEDC) Jos Electricity Distribution Company (JEDC) Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) and Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company (KEDC), Enugu Electricity Distribution Company, EEDC, among others.
However, despite all the efforts, Nigerians have continued to groan due to erratic power supply, which is largely blamed on inefficiency on the part of the Discos.
Oyo State is not different from other parts of the federation, as residents grapple with endless poor power supply, forcing some communities to stage protests in recent times.
Some of the communities that have witnessed such protests are Okeho, Olodo, Lalupon, Iwo Road, Apata, Apete and Awotan.
Residents of Okeho in Kajola Local Government Area have also staged protests to kick against the perceived injustice.
In September 2020, hundreds of residents of Apete, Awotan, Arola, Araromi took to the streets to protest against the poor supply of electricity.
The residents of the communities also in May 2021 protested the poor supply of electricity in their communities.
MEZIESBLOG understands that despite all these protests by the electricity consumers, the situation remains the same across the country.
To survive the ordeal, many residents have now found solar energy as an alternative.
Checks by DAILY POST reveal that many Nigerians are currently spending their hard-earned money which is running into millions of naira on installation of solar energy.
A resident of Ogbomoso, Mr Felix Okunade said: “It is no longer news that we experience poor supply of electricity in Oyo state. You can’t rely on it, they will definitely disappoint. Even though we recharge prepaid meters, it still seems useless, there is darkness everywhere.”
A resident of Igboora in Ibarapa Central Local Government Area, who asked not to be mentioned, maintained that the electricity supply has been turbulent in the town for the past one year.
“I am living in Igboora, Ibarapa Central Local Government Area of Oyo State. I started using the solar power system as an alternative last year, 2022.
“Up till now, there are no regrets. Solar power systems are not better than hydro energy so to speak. This is because of cost implications and non-availability of sunlight overnight. The system is also limited by the capacity of batteries and the number of solar panels,” he said.
Experts, stakeholders speak, express divergent views
A solar energy installer, Mr. Biodun Adebayo, who spoke to DAILY POST, explained that solar energy is increasingly adopted in Nigeria due to a number of reasons.
Adebayo revealed that Nigeria is facing significant challenges in providing reliable electricity to its population.
Adebayo said, “Solar energy is being increasingly adopted in Nigeria due to several compelling reasons. Nigeria is blessed with a high level of solar radiation, especially in the northern region. This means that there is an ample amount of sunlight available throughout the year, making solar energy a viable and reliable source of power.
“Nigeria faces significant challenges in providing reliable electricity to its population. The national grid is often unreliable, resulting in frequent power outages and insufficient access to electricity, particularly in rural areas.
“So, solar energy offers a decentralised solution, allowing individuals and communities to generate their own power independently.
“Considering Nigeria’s population of over 200 million people and the increasing interest in solar energy in recent years, let’s assume a conservative average spending of $5,000 per residential solar energy system. This estimate includes the cost of solar panels, inverters, batteries (if applicable), installation, and associated components.
“If we assume that a small percentage of Nigerian households, say 1%, have installed solar energy systems, the calculation would be as follows: 1% of Nigerian households = 0.01 * 200 million = 2 million households. Estimated spending: $5,000 per 2 million households. Estimated spending is = $10 billion.”
Mr Idris Akinloye, a graduate of Physics from Osun State University, who specialises in atmospheric physics and renewable energy (solar energy), said that the usage of solar energy in Nigeria as source of power is due to epileptic and interrupted power supply from the main source.
He noted that the average cost of solar energy is a minimum of N120,000.
“I am a renewable energy (specifically solar energy) consultant, technician and installer. Usage of solar energy in Nigeria as a source of power is due to epileptic and interrupted power supply.
“It depends on what to power but the average cost can be as low as N120,000. Estimates can be placed in the billions range,” he added.
Another solar energy installer and a graduate of Computer Science and Engineering from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) Ogbomoso, Prince Abdulahi Adeyemi said that solar energy had provided employment opportunities for many youths.
“We do not have stable electricity and people have decided to use the alternative source of energy which is solar. It has created more jobs for many youths. That is one of the benefits,” he noted.
Also, a specialist in solar energy solutions who lectures at the Department of Science Laboratory Technology, The Polytechnic, Ibadan, Mr Azeez Jelili explained that many Nigerians are now using solar energy as a source of power due to the recent high cost of the prices of petroleum products.
He said, “The major reason for the adoption of solar energy in Nigeria is because of non-availability of power supply and recent high cost of the prices of petroleum products.
“The only challenge is the initial cost of solar energy installation, apart from that, it is safer and cost effective compared to other sources of power”.
Nigeria can have adequate electricity if power sector is well funded- SPN
Acting National Chairperson of Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) Comrade Abiodun Bamigboye in an interview with DAILY POST noted that the current means of generating electricity can still guarantee the country adequate supply of electricity if it is well funded.
Bamigboye called for a reversal of privatisation of the power sector.
He also demanded reversal of the newly signed electricity bill by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
He said, “It is true that solar energy, as well as wind could serve as an additional source of electricity supply across the country.
“However, it will be wrong to think that the problem responsible for the erratic supply of electricity today is the absence of alternatives or incapacity of the current source of electricity supply.
“The current hydrostatic means of generating electricity can still guarantee the country an adequate supply of electricity if it is well funded under democratic control.
“To achieve this will require an immediate reversal of the current privatisation of the power sector whose fundamental motive is to create an avenue for billionaires to increase profits and wealth against the interest of the people to regular and affordable electricity supply.
“No wonder the 15 private companies currently in charge of the electricity distribution across the country have affected over 285% increase in the tariff within nine years from an average of N13kwh to over N50kwh without any improvement in the electricity supply.
“Going by this background, it is obvious that except we reverse the current privatisation policy, any electricity generated through the solar energy will also be so expensive such that it will not be affordable and accessible to the majority of Nigerians, especially with the newly signed electricity bill, which means that electricity is no longer a social service as recognised in the constitution but a commodity which can now be generated by the billionaires for sale and profit at the expense of the masses.
“It is in the light of this that we of the Socialist Party of Nigeria, SPN, oppose the newly signed electricity bill by the Tinubu-led government, call for its reversal and insist on the renationalization of the power sector under the control and management of a board that its composition shall comprise of elected representatives, consumers and government”.
We have created maintenance unit to reduce cases of prolonged outages- IBEDC
Meanwhile, the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) in charge of Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Kwara and parts of Niger, Ekiti and Kogi states said it has created a maintenance unit to reduce the cases of prolonged outages in its covered area.
Busolami Tunwase, Lead Media Relations of IBEDC in a reaction to DAILY POST enquiry explained that IBEDC is carrying out network rehabilitation in its covered area in order to address the problem of power outages.
She said, “We are carrying out network rehabilitation and created a maintenance unit to help reduce the cases of prolonged outages.
“We have also set up a transformer Repair Workshop to cater for repairs of faulty transformers.
“We apologise for all the inconvenience, but you are also aware that electricity business is done by three major players in Nigeria. We can only distribute what TCN gives to us. And electricity cannot be stored, so we distribute power given.”