•  Revisiting The Fifth Alterations Of The Nigerian Constitution (2)  | Independent Newspaper Nigeria

    Revisiting the fifth alterations of the nigerian constitution 2 | independent newspaper nigeria - nigeria newspapers online
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     The Fifth Alteration (No.17) altered the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to allow States to generate, transmit and distribute electricity in areas covered by the national grid; and for related matters. 

    Before the latest amendment, it might be argued that electricity was in the Concurrent Legislative List, as Paragraph 14, Part II, Second Schedule of the Constitution provided as follows: 

    “14. A House of Assembly may make laws for the State with respect to – (a) electricity and the establishment in that State of electric power stations; (b) the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity to areas not covered by a national grid system within that State; and (c) the establishment within that State of any authority for the promotion and management of electric power stations established by the State.” 

    However, in practice, the federating states were rendered horse de combat by the fact that any power generated would have to be fed first into the national grid. Other ancillary laws made it practically impossible for States and the private sector to be major players in the all-important power sector of the economy. Unfortunately, from the military interregnums up to the present time, the Federal Government has performed abysmally in terms of power generation, transmission and distribution. It is a sad commentary that a nation of about 200 million is served by a miserly 4,000 Megawatts of electricity. 

    We recall that on Sunday, July 5, 2010, at about 1730 GMT (5.00pm), a Federal Government-owned radio station, Paramount FM, 94.5, announced that it was going off air because it had “been running on generator since early morning.” In other climes, a radio station of the status of Paramount FM only goes off air for a very compelling reason such as when it suffers technical hitches, the need to overhaul its machinery of operation or when a force majeure (natural disaster, war, etc.) is forced upon it. Even then cases of disruption of programming are few and far between. But for a broadcasting station, in the 21st century, to unabashedly announce that it was shutting down its operations in order to allow its generating set “to rest” is, to say the least, most ludicrous. Unfortunately, this is the lot of many other businesses and institutions in Nigeria. 

    What further evidence do we require to conclude that Nigeria, in spite of the gargantuan financial resources it has earned from the sale of hydrocarbon deposit since independence in 1960, remains an underdeveloped economy? Is the appalling state of power supply not a proof of a nation that has been left behind by its contemporaries in Asia, Latin America, and even Africa? 

    Regrettably, as at 2010, when Paramount FM was shutting down to allow its generator “to rest”, Ghana, a neighbouring West African country, was celebrating ten years of uninterrupted power supply! As at 2010, the United States of America, with a population of 300 million, generated 937,000 Megawatts of electricity. South Africa, a country of 47 million people, powered its economy with 43,000 Megawatts. Ghana, with a population of 21 million people, generated 18,000MW. Brazil was our contemporary in the 60s; it served its 188 million people with 90,000 Megawatts. Germany generated 115,000MW for its 83 million citizens while UK, Nigeria’s former colonial master, had 77,000 Megawatts of electricity for its 60 million citizens. What is more, a developing country like Thailand had a whopping 40,000MW for its population of 70 million. Our dear country Nigeria, with a population of 150 million, could only boast of 4,000 (four thousand megawatts) in 2010 and 14 years after, in 2024, we have remained on the same spot! What a come down for a nation despite its gargantuan human and material resources! 

    That power supply remains a prime mover in the economic development of any nation is an understatement. What is more, a Nigerian nation, which still languishes in the backwoods of civilization, needs sufficient energy to jump-start its economic development and propel it to the 21st century. 

    Nigeria’s rudimentary economy is dominated by businesses in the informal sector. The battery chargers, barbers, hair-dressers, video club owners, carpenters, business centre owners, fashion designers, auto-mechanics, auto-electricians, pepper grinders, welders, and countless of other such small businesses constitute about eighty per cent of the nation’s workforce. Almost all of them depend on electricity to run their businesses. But they have now been forced to depend, almost exclusively, on power generating sets, which not only increase the cost of operations but constitute another source of risk to their enterprises. 

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