Are there established proof that coal could be a more reliable source of electricity in Nigeria? Nigeria, geologically falls within the major coal belts in the world. We have always been known for the coal deposits. For example, Enugu’s major source of revenue earning all through the colonial days and even till recently was coal. There are so many coal fields, mining shafts around Enugu and the Coal Corporation of Nigeria was one of the earliest corporations, just like the Railway Corporation, set up by the colonial masters in Nigeria. It was very functional. The earliest power plant we had in this country - the Oji River Plant, was dependent on coal. Up till now, there are visible frames of cranes that move coal from the mines to the power station, and that was supplying power to the whole of eastern Nigeria and beyond before Kainji Hydro dam in Niger State came on board.As soon as the war ended, the Oji River Power Plant was abandoned and then we started taking power from Kainji Dam to service the whole Nigeria which became inadequate. The same thing happened to Afam Power Station as it was abandoned.What quantum of coal deposits do we have to power potential electricity plants? We have proven reserves of coal, beyond Enugu environs, we now have coal reserves even in Kogi and as close as Nasarawa State and I am proud to say that people are beginning to explore them and sign supply contracts based on coal. Coal is an alternative that must be explored and utilized. Government must encourage that.On coal again, do we have the capacity for coal re-gasification as we speak?Why not? A major source of power supply in China is coal. The technology of using coal for power generation is not as complicated as using gas. It is about heating it to generate the steam which converts to the turbine and then electricity flows.Don’t you think there are issues transporting coal to far-flung plants as in the case of gas?Normally if you are using coal and you are using trucks to transport coal to the plants, it clogs the roads. What you do is to set up cranes which go to the coal mines to collect and take it to the plants. The cable carts used in the Oji River Plant are still there and when they were working, they move from the site to dump the coal at the plant and then return back. Government would need to restore them and build such power plants around coal areas.Can’t those cranes be vandalized like is being done in gas pipelines?If somebody decides to vandalise a crane carrying coal, when that bucket descends on him, what will he do with it. The bucket carries tonnes of coal and will spill on them. It is heavy and can be seen glaringly high in the sky. Why are you advocating for a shift in coal-to-power from gas resources?When you talk about gas, it is all tied to the growth of the oil industry. As soon as the oil industry came, we went into making all our foreign exchange from petrol. We wanted to power all our power stations from gas. We wanted everything to be tied to the oil industry.We keep commissioning generating power plants and I had warned that the power supply will diminish and that we will find out that we are not going to make progress, instead we will be dropping. I am happy it is beginning to happen. We are getting shorter and shorter hours of power supply. Meanwhile, we are commissioning many more Gencos. We did not implement an adequate gas master plan. It has not been fully implemented and you are beginning to put in place generating points on a master plan that is not implemented. Gas supply is not there. We don’t have adequate gas supply. There are some power stations we have in this country that don’t have pipes taking gas to them. Why should that be the case? Why should we not plan? Why should we not do the first things first?But we supply gas to other countries, why is it so?Since we have short falls in domestic gas supply, what business do we have pumping gas to Ghana? Why should we still bankroll the so called West African Gas Project (WAGP), supplying gas to as far as Ghana, Burkina Faso and some other places when down here our power plants cannot work to capacity because of lack of gas? If they were in our position, would they do that for us? The answer is definitely No!We have gas. After all, we used to flare gas before. What is important is the infrastructure needed to feed this gas to domestic power plants. That is the origin of the so-called Gas Master plan Project. The question is: has it been implemented?Could it be there are issues with our internal policies on gas supply?I advocate a review of all those agreements. Part of the problem is lack of networking - administrative networking. The process of building the power plant falls within the authority of the Ministry of Power. The provision of the gas, the fuel, falls within the ambit of the Nigerian Gas Company, which is under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources. There is no reason why proper networking shouldn’t exist.But power failure has not been blamed on policies but on vandalism..?Every time, they blame it on vandalism. Pipelines are not just vandalised. Not just anybody can tamper with these pipes. Let’s just stop killing a dog by giving it a bad name. How many times have you heard that there was an explosion of gas? It is always petrol. People can use buckets and collect petrol. But not gas. Besides, technologies have evolved, we should get GPS-powered technologies to monitor installed devices. This country is endowed enough to do that. What would you advise the new government to do to address power supply concerns?I am sure the incoming government would have noticed a total failure in the power sector. Instead of moving forward, one is moving backward, it is failure. So, it is for the incoming government to pick the pieces and try to give the people light, give the industries power.When you have the issue of power addressed, you may have addressed a whole lot of aspects of the economy. Many manufacturing companies collapsed because of power; a lot of businesses folded up because they could not sustain themselves using generators. Many of these plants keep breaking down because they are not designed to work on epileptic power supply. I hope the incoming government will tackle the issue of power seriously. We have to tackle power, health services and our education system and provide a good environment for learning.
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