Kano Economic Summit and Power Project


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Kano Economic Summit and Power Project




Jaafar Jaafar






June 13, 2006 



Alhaji Ismaila Maibiskit was a manufacturer-turned politician and owner of the now moribund Bagauda Biscuits Company LTD, Kano. His company was among the biscuit companies that started operation in Kano in the 70s and halted grudgingly (due to energy crises) in the mid 90s. There were about five biscuit companies in Kano in the 90s but none is today functional. They collapsed due largely to excruciating cost of the alternative energy (diesel). He said that his once vibrant company supplied Lagos, Ibadan, Borno, Kaduna, etc with biscuits but today reverse is the case because PHCN has taken the place of generators as stand-by rather than a main power providing source. “The extortionist billing system they call estimation is not my problem if the power is stable. My machines are intact, I have the capital but it’s impossible to run on N820, 000.00 worth of diesel monthly,” said the septuagenarian manufacturer, Maibiskit. Similar fate had befallen other industries in the industrial areas of Challawa, Sharada, Bompai, etc.


However, Liyel Imoke, the Minister of Power and Steel, recently sent a monstrous chill down the spine of Nigerians in a function in Kaduna, saying that it will take another 50 years to have stable power in Nigeria bearing in mind that the Federal Government commits not less than N185 billion into the sector annually. The pertinent question that even the optimists (perhaps of Igeist’s conviction) should ask here is, must any state who do not have alternative energy source, save PHCN, wait till 2056 before it wakes its comatose industries? No, Kano must not wait!


Now that the National Economic Intelligence Committee (NEIC) had dutifully submitted its report to the President Olusegun Obasanjo recently by its chairman, Professor Ibrahim Ayagi (who incidentally chaired the sub-theme II of the recently concluded Kano Economic Summit), Nigeria will attain the target of 17,176 megawatts of electricity with the completion of all the 12 ongoing power plants projects, apart from the five existing and 14 new Independent Power Plants (IPP). By next year, the report says, Nigeria would meet its 10,000 megawatts generation target. But how certain? The ever-ending promises without fulfilment had negatively affected our frames of reference. The fact is that we were told similar stories ad nauseum since 1999.


The electricity problem in the country is intractable – It defied every solution. Given that the Power Reform Act is about to bring a new dawn, and dissipated a modicum of hope we reposed in the player (did we?), Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), many states now embarked on independent power projects to yank themselves from PHCN’s epileptic delivery. They are now busy groping for any alternative energy source to tap, depending on its availability or proximity to furnish their domestic and industrial needs. Even oil companies are now busy converting flared gas to economic uses by constructing power plants. Omuku power project in Rivers State is a good example of state independent power project. Also, on the other hand, Obajana Project is good example of industrial power project. President Olusegun Obasanjo was so impressed that he promised to put impetus to the Rivers State’s efforts.  


In a bid to restore the lost economic glory of Kano State, the present administration of Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau summoned, in almost college homecoming style, the dazzling array of Kano intellectuals who stand out in their respective fields to discuss and proffer solutions to the depleted economic glory and other problems plaguing the development of the state. It was named Kano Economic Summit, with the theme: “Restoring Kano’s Economic Prosperity.” The stakeholders discussed almost every facet of our social life but centred mainly on the theme of the summit which was divided into three sub-themes, namely: Improving Human Capital; Empowering People and Reducing Poverty and; Restoring Capacity in Key Economic Sectors.


Whoever witnessed or listened to the live broadcast of the summit on local radio would be mesmerised by the cogency of the stakeholders’ deliberations. No doubt you will leave the place with the impression that Kano will become London in the recent future and in terms of security of lives and property, Kano will soon remove the usual stereotype off the fellow citizens’ psyche that Kano is one of the hotbeds of crises, or as some even uncharitably labelled Kano as “nerve centre of strife.”  The name, much to their chagrin, will soon change to “economic nerve centre of the country.” My friend, a representative NIPC in the summit was so much impressed and concluded that if the deliberations of the summit would be put into pragmatic framework, Kano will be the best in terms of security of lives and property and economic prosperity. “I don’t know Kano is endowed with such brains,” he concluded. We left the place walking tall.


Under the last sub-theme, Restoring Capacity in Key Economic Sectors, many issues were discussed. Among them was “causes of industrial decline in Kano” where the crucial intersection between economy and power was well addressed. They postulated that there are many causes that precipitated the abysmal decline and retarded the growth of industries like epileptic power supply, high rate of interest, inflation, import of foreign goods, among other locusts.


But from all conceivable explanation, instability of power is the major problem. If there is stable power supply many flourishing industries of Kano would not have remained idle – Bagauda Biscuits and the like would have been functional: Power is the back bone of thriving industries the world over.


Naska Energy in partnership with Steag Encotec of Germany who sought partnership with Kano State Government to build power generating plant was among those who made analytic presentation to the summit that livened up the event and earned them a standing ovation. To stem the energy problem in Kano, Naska Energy said, there is need for about 350 megawatts (mw). They posited that Kano misses approximately 310 megawatts as the meagre amount it receives from the National Grid fluctuates between 30-40 megawatts. But as some wrongly suggested that Kano should adopt hydro option, Naska Energy dealt a serious blow on such suggestion as it told the audience that Tiga Dam is the only dam in Kano that is capable of generating hydroelectric power as designed in the early 70s by the then Military Governor, CP Audu Bako, but its capacity is just a paltry 20mw. The question here is, pray, what impact would a token 20mw make in a place that is in dire need of hundreds of megawatts? They further underscored the merit and demerit of each of the alternatives, namely, hydro power; gas; bio gas reactors; wind turbines; diesel and; coal. They said that the only alternative so deserving of attention because of its cost-effectiveness and accessibility is coal. Going by the feasibility study they had conducted, the only viable alternative Kano should avail its self of, is coal because of its availability in commercial quantity in Okaba, Kogi State (about 600km by rail). Therefore, it can be obtained to realise the main theme of the summit, Restoring Kano’s Economic Prosperity.


It is incontrovertible fact that the problem with Nigeria is not policy formulation but policy implementation. Billions of taxpayers’ money are squandered to organise these events which the common man rarely feels the impact because of poor or no execution. We all believe Nigeria is a country blessed with intellectual artisans who are versed in crafting plans that could transform the country into Europe in a foreseeable future, only for the government to fail to demonstrate in practice. We have had Vision 2010 and the like (don’t remind me the billions spent on the illegal constitution review exercise to achieve a satanic agenda). Doubtless also, we are not meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target. Most, if not all of these plans peter out for lack of, or haphazard implementation. I pray the recent Ayagi Report would not languish in the same cemetery where Esho, Kolade Reports et al, rest.


My lamentation here is Kano Economic Summit, like similar ones done earlier, is at the verge of plunging into the abyss of neglect. I would not like to see the intelligent deliberations of these intellectuals swept under the carpet of oblivion. I want the chief convener of the summit to do something in practice and stop what it had been doing and has penchant for – junketing around the world to woo investors or hire consultants to find solution to an already-found solution to the energy problem. Being part of the pre-election blandishments, I urge Kano state Governor Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau to, as a matter of urgency, expedite action towards “restoring Kano’s economic prosperity.”


My prayer is that when Kano’s independent power project begins (I hope soon!), may the bounteous president extend his olive branch to the energy crisis of Kano as he did in Rivers State.


Jaafar, a public affair commentator, lives in Kano. Email: jafsmohd@yahoo.com




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