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Slow match to energy diversification – The Nation Newspaper



To improve electricity generation and supply for domestic and industrial use, Nigeria began the diversification of her energy sources through the implementation of a nuclear energy programme. But, almost two decades down the line, electricity supply has not improved. Supply hovers around 3,500 and 4,300 megawatts. Experts say this is hurting the industrialisation drive and frustrating consumers. Energy Correspondent AKINOLA AJIBADE reports.

By now, stakeholders in the country’s struggling energy sector must have come to terms with the reality that the envisaged growth in the nuclear energy segment of the power industry has woefully failed to manifest.

The stakeholders, including electricity consumers, power utility firms and industry regulators, are disappointed that the plan to diversify the energy sources through the nuclear energy programme has not boosted electricity supply across the country.

For instance, with supply hovering around 3,500 and 4,300 megawatts (mw), it means that the push to add nuclear energy to the country’s energy mix and, hopefully, improve power generation and supply, has not delivered the desired result almost two decades after the country began the implementation of the nuclear energy programme in 2004.

It also means, by extension, that Nigeria, according to experts, may need to rework the programme and walk the talk on its implementation.

The administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo had in 2004 set the tone for what promised to change the dynamics of the power sector and deliver a robust energy mix. That was when it inaugurated a reactor provided by the Research Department of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State.

Tagged Nigeria Research Reactor (NRR 1), it was developed to improve the skills of Nigerians who intend to go into the production of nuclear energy and allied areas. Apparently excited by the move, the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan also developed interest in the use of nuclear energy.

In 2007, Jonathan, at a Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, Switzerland, said Nigeria was ready to tap into opportunities in nuclear energy to engender the growth of the power sector in particular and the economy generally. Nigerians, he said, saw nuclear power as a means to provide electricity to its teeming population.

Jonathan went a notch higher, announcing that the then Federal Government was committed to negotiating and signing a treaty with multi-lateral orgnisations.

The government of the late President Umaru Yar’ Adua was no less enthusiastic over the prospects of leveraging a vibrant nuclear energy programme to  diversify energy sources and improve electricity supply.

At various fora, he urged the country to embrace nuclear energy to meet its growing energy needs, stressing that the idea would help to end the problems in the sector.

Experts, stakeholders back nuclear energy

The Chairman, Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC), Prof Simon Presco Mallam, was emphatic that nuclear energy remained the only option, which the Federal Government must explore to end problems in the power sector and also achieve the much-needed economic growth.

The option, the Mallam explained, has helped South Africa, Russia and other countries to improve electricity supply, as well as their Gross Domestic Product (GDP). He, therefore, advised Nigeria to toe a similar path, if she wanted to achieve significant economic growth.

According to Mallam, Nigeria has set up a roadmap on how to achieve growth in the nuclear energy segment of the power industry, adding that the country has resolved to improve generation through this energy source.

Mallam said: “Nigeria has a roadmap and that is by mid 2020, the country hopes to get a commercial plant and add three more plants in five to 10 years. If all go according to plans, the Federal Government would certainly add nuclear energy to its energy mix in no distant future.”

He said Nigeria has signed both operational and project development agreements with Russia on the generation of nuclear energy. He, however, stressed that both countries were yet to sign any commercial contractual agreements.

The immediate past President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Dr. Frank Udemba Jacobs, also weighed in on the matter. He said Nigeria must diversify energy sources to hasten the growth of the electricity sector. According to him, Nigeria has a lot of options to choose from in order to improve the quality of life of its people, including nuclear energy.

It is easy to see why Jacobs was pushing for energy diversification. Operators in the manufacturing sector where he holds sway have been agonising over the heavy blow on their productivity and competitiveness dealt by unreliable electricity supply.

The manufacturing sector relies on steady electricity for production of goods and services. But the lack of this critical infrastructure has continued to affect the sector’s capacity utilisation and push up cost of production, forcing many manufacturers to either downsize or lay off their workforce.

Others who could not stand the heat were compelled to relocate to other countries, such as Benin, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Togo and others, in the sub-region, where electricity supply is relatively steady and regular.

Ambitious nuclear energy targets

According to the NAEC boss, Nigeria targets 4,800 megawatts (mw) of electricity from nuclear energy between 2020 and 2025.

Delivering a speech at a nuclear energy conference in Russia last year, he said Nigeria targeted 1,200 mw by 2020, adding that the country hoped to generate 1,200 mw in four phases, to bring the total to 4,800 mw.

“Our plan right now is for us to be able to generate between 1,000 mw to 1,200 mw, and then up it to four plants of the same capacities. Hopefully, by the time we are done, we would be talking of about 4,800 mw. It is not easy to start all the plants at the same time, considering the capacity to build them and other factors,” he said.

According to Mallam, Nigeria has concrete plans to build its first nuclear plant by mid 2020, stressing that the country was still putting logistics in place to make this a reality.

He said the government had carried out feasibility studies on several areas, before settling on Geregu in the Ajaokuta area of Kogi State and Itu in Akwa-Ibom State.

He added that factors such as possibility of earthquake, flood or volcanoes, easy access to water and topography were considered before the Commission settled on the areas.

Struggling power sector justifies targets

At the current capacity of between 3,500 and 4,300 mw, which is barely enough to power an economy as big as Nigeria’s, the need for the Federal Government to look for means of doubling the production of electricity has never been more compelling.

The former Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, lent credence to this at a stakeholders’ forum in Lagos, recently. According to him, the country has 2,000 mw of stranded electricity, adding that the issue was affecting supply of power across the country.

A report by US-based Energy Information Administration (EIA) also said Nigeria has one of the lowest net electricity generation per capita rates in the world. It noted that electricity generation in the country has fallen drastically, resulting in load shedding and blackouts.

The issue, EIA said, informed the Federal Government’s decision to privatise the power sector in 2013, by unbundling the assets of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN). It, however, said despite privatisation, the sector was yet to return to optimal performance.

The EIA said this was what informed the Federal Government’s decision to explore opportunities in nuclear energy.

Slow match to nuclear energy

However, as it turned out, the push to explore opportunities in nuclear energy to increase power generation and also achieve growth has not resulted in any significant improvement, let alone give impetus to the economy.

The nation learnt that this may not be unconnected with the huge capital required for nuclear energy. For instance, a nuclear energy plant, according to experts, costs between $15 billion and $20 billion. Besides, because of its huge size, a nuclear plant can only be erected on a huge expanse of land.

The Chief Executive Officer, Rosatom Central and Southern Africa, Dmitry Shornikov, confirmed this. He told The Nation that the cost of building a nuclear energy plant is enormous, adding that there is a need to study the market well before venturing into it.

Rosatom, a state-owned nuclear energy institution in Russia, organised the 2019 edition of Atomic Conference and Exhibition. The event attracted more than 3,600 participants across the world, exposing them to new technologies.

Themed “Nuclear for Better Life,” the conference also provided the opportunity for people to keep abreast of developments in the nuclear world. Participants were taught the rudiments of using technologies to improve the operations of sectors in the economy.

Unfortunately, Nigeria was not adequately represented at the conference, a development seen by not a few critical stakeholders as indicative of her lack of commitment to the implementation of a nuclear energy plan.

The former Minister of Science and Technology, Chief Ogbonaya Onu, who represented the country, left unceremoniously minutes later. Other African countries, such as Rwanda, Kenya, and South Africa, were fully represented at the event.

Speaking with The Nation, Shornikov said the nuclear energy market was determined by the vagaries of demand and supply, adding that the cost of procuring components of the plant changes a lot.

Listen to Shornikov: “Since nobody has control over the situation in the market, one can, but only buy the components of the plant at a price offered by the producer(s) or supplier(s) of the plant. The price is denominated in dollars and that tells you how expensive the materials are.’’

He said the cost of a nuclear plant is extremely high, despite the fact that the cost of uranium, which serves as nuclear fuel, is comparatively low, when compared with fossil fuels used in powering gas and coal turbines.

On nuclear power plant’s lifespan, Shornikov said the lifespan is usually longer than that of a gas turbine used in generating electricity in Nigeria.

According to him, “Even though the cost of constructing a nuclear power plant is quite high, the cost implications of operating them are quite low. The average lifespan of a modern nuclear reactor is 60 to 80 years.”

The energy expert said a nuclear energy can be modified in order to increase its output, adding that things can be done after the expiration of the plant.

Nigeria, Shornikov said, would save a lot of money yearly on off-grid diesel generation method, when the plant is operational in the country.

Community resentment also sore point

The Nation also learnt that the people of Itu in Akwa-Ibom State, one of the areas chosen for the construction of a nuclear plant, are not buying the idea. They have continued to kick against the government’s decision to do so.

The President, Akwa Ibom Community, Abuja, Tommy E. Okon, said his people have rejected anything that is not in the interest of the state.

“We reject the plan to build nuclear plant in Akwa Ibom State. We have rejected it before. We are rejecting it now. And we will continue to reject it. The reason is because the negative effects of building of a nuclear plant is higher than the gains,” he said.

Nuclear power myth persists

Shornikov also said there is still much scepticism about nuclear technologies globally. He, however, said the positive perception of nuclear technologies and its beneficial impacts are constantly growing and nuclear technologies are constantly developing.

He said criticism in general stems from the perceived lack of free information about the technology, adding that the myths about disasters and radiation are not based on facts

The expert said the fear of so-called nuclear waste has been debated for 50 years and it is a fact that the nuclear industry is subject to incredibly stringent international and national standards and regulations.

“Moreover, nuclear power is the only energy industry which takes full responsibility for all its wastes and builds this cost directly into the product. International co-operation and systems are also in place to effectively control and track the movement of many materials, including radioactive materials,” Shornikov clarified.

The consensus of experts is that there is nothing wrong with a country like Nigeria having energy mix but in doing so, it should consider economics, security of supply and environmental impact, which are the three important factors necessary when designing the optimum energy mix.

Funding also

Nigeria currently has three nuclear energy research centres in the University of Ibadan, Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria and University of Port Harcourt. In February, the three centres graduated six nuclear engineers.

In late March, nuclear scientists working for Nigeria’s Centre for Energy Research and Development, Obafemi Awolowo University, the Centre for Energy Research and Training and Ahmadu Bello University threatened to picket the NAEC over unpaid salaries.

Because of this and other aforementioned challenges, a stakeholder in the energy value chain, Professor Eusibus Obiajunwa, warned that “If the trend is not checked now, Nigeria will be lagging behind in the next few years in nuclear programme. The few professionals we have in the sector will migrate to other countries where they are already looking for them.”

Russia sets the nuclear energy pace

Russia’s nuclear energy supply is put at about 149 Tera Watt Per Hour (TWh), which is 15.7 per cent of total Russian electricity output and 5.4 per cent of global nuclear energy production. The total installed capacity of nuclear reactors is 21,244 Mw.

Tera watt offers volumes of electricity that are higher than the ones offered by either giga watt or mega watt of electricity.

The Russian Government has also moved a notch higher, with Rosatom signing technical agreements with countries in Africa, Europe, Middle East and Asia. For instance, Russia, through Rosatom, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Nigeria in 2017, on how to generate nuclear electricity for the country.

Not only has the MoU improved partnership between the two countries, it has culminated in the exchange of ideas on how to adopt, build and use nuclear energy technologies to generate electricity, among using them for other things.

Shornikov, who made this known, said the Russian corporation was aware that Nigeria had been working with the International Atomic Energy Agency as regards nuclear energy development.

He said: “Nigeria is most certainly following all the correct steps to be ready for nuclear power. The Nigerian government has shown firm commitment to introduce nuclear power into its energy mix. We are aware and we commend Nigeria for its work with the agency

“It is a phased and comprehensive method designed to assist countries that are considering or planning their first nuclear power plant. The method splits the activities necessary to establish the infrastructure for a nuclear power programme into three progressive phases of development, with the duration of each dependent on the degree of commitment and resources applied in the country.”

According to him, the completion of each phase is marked by a specific ‘milestone’ at which progress can be assessed and a decision can be made about the readiness to move on to the next phase.

Shornikov stated that his firm had been working with Nigeria for about five years. “A great deal has already been done in terms of the legal framework and educating specialists, both of which are part of the nuclear infrastructure development programme,” he said.

On October 30, 2017, Russia and Nigeria signed project development agreements on construction and operation of a nuclear power plant and a research centre housing a multi-purpose nuclear research reactor on the territory of the country.

The success or otherwise of the agreement with Russia will, however, depend largely on the level of political will on the part of the Federal Government.


Gov AbdulRazaq urges youths to shun drug abuse, other vices



Gov AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara has called on Nigerian youths to shun drug abuse and other vices that could hinder them from realising their lifetime ambitions.

AbdulRazaq made the call on Wednesday when he received members of the state chapter of Scouts’ Association of Nigeria (SAN), led by its Commissioner, Deacon Olabisi Afolayinka, at the Government House, Ilorin.

The governor, who recalled, with nostalgia, his days as a scout boy in Capital School, Kaduna, said that the organisation had contributed immensely to nurturing youths to become good citizens and contribute to the development of the country.

“This is an association that prepares youths on how to be good citizens and how to relate with their fellow countrymen.

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“These are virtues that the youth of today should maintain. In our own days as youths, there were no rampant cases of drug abuse,” he said.


The governor urged the youth to use their energy for productive ventures and join the organisation to make positive contributions to society.

AbdulRazaq, who was made the organisation’s Ambassador of Peace, promised to live up to expectations by giving necessary support to the body through relevant government agencies.

Earlier in his remarks, Afolayanka said that the constitution of the body automatically made the governor of any state its patron and the president grand patron.

He commended AbdulRazaq for the audience granted the association, saying that this was the first time any governor would be hosting them in the state in the last 21 years.

Afolayanka said that the association was founded to build young boys and girls to make useful contributions to the country.

The SAN commissioner noted that cultism and other vices were not rampant in schools in the past when the scouts held sway.

He urged the governor to continue to support the association for effective discharge of its responsibilities in the state.

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NYSC: Bwari assures Corp members improved welfare



The Chairman of Bwari Area Council, Mr John Gabaya has assured members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) of his administration’s readiness to improve on their welfare.

Gabaya gave the assurance when representatives of the FCT NYSC Secretariat, and some members of the NYSC 2019 Batch B’, paid him a courtesy visit on Wednesday in Abuja.

Gabaya, who appreciated the team for the gesture, said that it was the duty of the council, as host of the NYSC Orientation Camp in the city to ensure it gave the Corps maximum support.

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He acknowledged the fact that the camp in Kubwa, was faced with infrastructure challenges, adding that efforts would be made to amendments it and bring succour to the corps members.


“The council, in its capacity, alongside the management of the scheme, would meet and discuss how it would make the development feasible including our best effort to add a little raise to their allowance,” Gabaya said.

Earlier, the NYSC FCT Coordinator, Mrs Waleeda Isa, said the visit was to acquaint its officials with the new administration of the council as host of the orientation camp.

Isa decried the sorry state of infrastructure at the NYSC camp, saying “their lodge in the camp is dilapidated and needs attention”.

“Also, it would go a long way for those who serve under the council, if your administration can kindly add a little to their allowance to augment what the Federal Government is giving them.

“We will be honoured if you make these efforts so that we feel your presence and know that you have us at heart,” she said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the NYSC 2019 Batch B’ corp members have reported and would be inaugurated at the orientation camp on Aug. 22.

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Lagos govt boosts MCC services in Eti-Osa Tribune Online



THE Lagos State Government says it has completed yet another Maternal and Childcare Centre (MCC) located in Eti-Osa Local Government Area of the state to increase residents’ access to qualitative maternal and child healthcare.

The state Commissioner of Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, made this known on Wednesday in Lagos during an advocacy meeting with community leaders and residents of Badore.

Abayomi was represented by the Director of Projects, Ministry of Health, Dr Olusola Oduwole.

He said that the continuous implementation of strategic maternal child survival interventions, policies, programmes and projects by the government was geared toward the reduction of maternal and child mortality in the state.

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According to him, the local and national statistics of maternal and child mortality and morbidity rate are of utmost concern to the government hence, the adoption of various strategies to combat it.

“One of these strategies is the construction of MCC, a specialised healthcare centre for mothers and children.

“It is aimed at taking maternal and child healthcare closer to the people by reducing the travel time and improving the quality care to the highest possible standard,” the commissioner said.


Abayomi said that the MCC was located on Ogombo Road along Abraham Adesanya Estate in Eti-Osa local government area.

According to him, the facility is a four-floored 110-bed complex designed to respond to maternal and child health issues.

“It will provide quality services for the restoration, improvement and promotion of the health and well-being of women, babies and children in the local government area and adjoining communities.

“It has two theatres where surgeries can be done; consulting rooms; treatment rooms, antenatal and postnatal wards; baby nursery; pharmacy, laboratory and offices, among others,” he said.

Abayomi said that the construction of MCCs in the state was designed to stem the tide of maternal deaths which occurred as a result of delivery by unskilled birth attendants, haemorrhage, infection, obstructed labour and malaria, among others.

He said that women should not die in the course of life procreation process.

“The concept of the construction of MCCs was mooted with the conviction that these interventions will impact positively on the health indices of our mothers and children who constitute a significant percentage of clients attended to at public health facilities.

“The Eti-Osa MCC will commence operation before the end of the week and will serve as a referral centre to all primary health facilities in Eti-Osa local government and accompanying communities.

“It will yield the much desired and anticipated impact towards the reduction of maternal and child mortality in the area,” the commissioner said.

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Psychiatric resident doctors vow to continue strike %



THE Association of Resident Doctors, Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, has resolved to continue its ongoing indefinite strike demanding for optimal mental healthcare for patients.

The President of the association, Dr Afeez Enifeni, said in a statement on Wednesday, in Lagos, that the strike would continue until the management addressed the work experience of the overworked doctors.

Enifeni said that the doctors had on Aug. 19 held a meeting to review the current industrial action.

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The doctors accused the hospital management of being insensitive to the plight of the in and outpatients, who according to him, are receiving suboptimal mental health services.


“The hospital management has blatantly refused to replace the annual exit of resident doctors for the past four years.

“Instead, they have let patient load and clinical work increase significantly for hapless resident doctors whose health and academic pursuits have suffered irreparably.

“In light of the above, the management’s insistence on employing only five locum doctors is highly provocative of our demands.

“It hardly improves the status quo which already puts overworked resident doctors at the brink of academic failure, health challenges and malpractice suits,” he said.

He urged President Muhammadu Buhari to prevail on the hospital’s management to do the needful in line with the administration’s next level agenda.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the resident doctors had embarked on an indefinite strike on July 31 over non-employment of more resident doctors at the hospital.

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AIDS: Society says self-stigma more destructive than HIV/AIDS



THE Coalition of Civil Society Network on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (COCSNHAN) on Wednesday said that self-stigma was more destructive to people living with HIV than the disease.

Mr Ikenna Nwakamma, first Co-chairman of the society, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that it was the major reason people living with HIV default from treatments.

Nwakamma, who called for the incorporation of mental health services in the national HIV programme, said it was imperative to rescue patients from the dangers of self-stigma.

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“Very important, the issues of self-stigma is hardly talked about and that is even more destructive; it is the major reason people living with HIV default in their treatment,” he said.

The society’s co-chairman explained that mental health would make people living with HIV become co-managers of their health.

According to him, mental health problems among people living with HIV is the new epidemic and we must deal with it squarely.

Nwakamma restated the plans of the society to set up a monitoring system that would capture and report cases of stigma and discrimination in health facilities.

He promised that any identified case would be used to send a strong warning to others.

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