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Comrade Joe Ajaero

Nigeria: Union leader says reliance on gas for power supply unsustainable

Comrade Joe Ajaero, the General Secretary of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), has attributed much of Nigeria’s problems with electricity supply to the over-reliance on gas to supply energy to power stations.

Speaking to a Lagos-based TV channel, the union leader explained that most of Nigeria’s power was generated from gas produced in the Niger Delta. It then made sense, he argued, for the power stations to built close to where the gas came from.

The Egbin Power Station near Lagos
The Egbin Power Station near Lagos

Sadly, in Nigeria, what made sense was usually not what applied. He claimed that there were what he called “political power stations”, in which political considerations, rather than common sense, dictated that power stations were sited in places in which there was no gas. This meant long pipelines had to be constructed to transport the gas from the Niger Delta to the power station. He gave the example of then Minister for Power Olusegun Agagu building a plant in his home state, Ondo.

Ajaero went on to dismiss the excuses favoured by the current power minister Babatunde Fashola, blaming pipeline vandalism for the disruption in electricity supply. The union leader claimed that if power stations were built in the areas that produced gas, there would be no need for long pipelines prone to being vandalised in the first place.

He also argued that the same people moaning about pipeline vandalism were awarding themselves huge contracts for endless repairs of the damaged pipelines.

Ajaero said that nowhere else in the world depended on gas for most of their energy needs. It was mostly a fallback option for them, unlike in Nigeria where it was the main option.

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