Proffer Solution To Frequent Collapse Of Our National Grid, UNN VC Charges Engineers



- The Vice Chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN, Prof. Charles Igwe, on Friday, charged engineers to intensify researches aimed at finding lasting solution to the energy crisis which results in frequent collapse of the national grid.

The Vice Chancellor who described energy as the life wire of all the sectors of the economy, said that the prospect of the nation towards solving its myriad of challenges may not be feasible without reliable electricity.

He made the statements during his opening address at the 19th Herbert Macaulay Memorial Lecture, HMML, christened ‘The Path to Stable Electricity in Nigeria,’ organised by the Faculty of Engineering, UNN, at the St. Teresa’s College Main Hall, Nsukka.

He also described Herbert Macaulay as one of the first Nigerian nationalists who championed Nigerian independence, adding that UNN would continue to recognize his great contributions to national development.

He equally said that UNN instituted HMML lecture series to highlight the several faces of a man who has been described as the father of Nigerian nationalism and to encourage present day engineers, surveyors, architects and other professionals to learn from his professional lifestyle and make every effort to leave good footprints on the sands of time.

While delivering the HMML lecture, the Managing Director of Azura Power West Africa Limited, Eric Okeke, said the problem of energy problem in the country is lack of money.

He also said “This is because, without money, whatever product we develop is a waste. In simple terms, what makes a product attractive to the inventor is simply the ability of that product to generate money. Is there a market for this my product and if there is, are people ready to pay me to enjoy the services of my product? Once the answer is yes, then we are in business. But where a product is not attractive enough for users to pay for it, or where it is attractive, but the owner does not have the mechanism to collect payment,then no matter how beautiful that product is, it is a failure,” he explained.

Okeke also said that lack of enough energy generation, transmission and distribution capacity to ensure that consumers enjoyed stable electricity in their homes and offices, as well as non cost reflective tariff to ensure that value chain was operated and maintained efficiently, and investments made for future growth, were the two major issues resulting in inaccessibility of energy in Nigeria.

He also said “Nigerians have always taken electricity as a social product which should not be paid for. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when this attitude emerged; but it stands to reason that electricity from the grid became increasingly unstable (and so served as a backup power source to most people rather than their primary source), people stopped paying for a product they were not receiving. Cognizant of this, the government at the point of privatisation planned to increase the tariff over time.

“The logic was that people would only start paying when service had improved, and service would only improve if the previous issue of under capacity was solved,” he said.

He however said poor private investments in power sector had been attributed to fear of investors to recoup money invested as electricity consumers most times feel reluctant to pay for service rendered.

“Power generation is cost effective,so the inability of some customers to pay for service rendered have been a drawback to electricity distribution companies in the country,” he said.

Mr. James Agada, an Engineer and Managing Director, Ixzora Laboratories in a keynote address said that the problems of stable electricity in Nigeria has to do with technical, political and economic challenges.

“Technical, political and economic are among the challenges militating against stable electricity in Nigeria

“It is also an opportunity for policy makers to create an environment and structure where such private generation can be fed back to the public grid,” he said

Earlier, Prof Emeka Obe, Dean, Faculty of Engineering in UNN said that electricity remain the key driver of every modern economy.

According to him, “electricity is the base of infrastructure on which nearly every other infrastructure relies.

“The lecture provides us with the avenue to interact with distinguished professionals who have the love for our faculty and indeed our university at heart,” he said.

The Dean, however appealed for help to enable the faculty to have a 1000 capacity lecture theater, new and separate building for seven departments, among others