Omoyele Sowore, the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), has told the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar and others who have been in the corridors of power since 1999 to retire and face the consequences of darkness they brought to Nigeria.
Sowore said this during an interview on Arise TV on Sunday while reacting to the former Vice President’s statement that Sowore doesn’t understand the issues affecting Nigeria’s power sector.
Atiku also accused Sowore of contesting for President every four years and leaving afterwards, an allegation the AAC presidential candidate has since dismissed as 2019 was the first time he contested for President.
“He has all along lived outside this country, he doesn’t even know the policy implementation or policy initiative. When we came in, the total generation was about 4,000 megawatts, we initiated the building of 9 additional power stations. By the time those nine were finished, the capacity had gone from 4,000 to about 13,000 megawatts. And unfortunately no corresponding increase, as far as these transmission lines are concerned. They keep on collapsing because there is no way to transmit them.
“These additional nine power stations were completed by (Goodluck) Jonathan. Umaru was on it. He died, and Jonathan continued. And he completed them. That is why anytime there is an increase in power generation and then you have a transmission system, and there is no transmission to evacuate the power, it will collapse. So he doesn’t even know because he lives outside this country. He comes every four years and contests for the president and goes back. What does Sowore know about this country? Nothing, absolutely nothing,” Atiku had said.
Meanwhile while reacting to this comment in the interview, Sowore said, “I think he is losing memories. Otherwise, he would have known that I have never at any point in my life left issues concerning Nigeria. In fact, for him and others, I was the source of news while they were in office. Happenings in the government. When Garba Shehu used to work with him as SA, he used to send me documents so as to counter Obasanjo in those days when they were at each other’s necks.
“And he also said that they increased electricity from 4,000 to 13,000 megawatts. That is not true. The highest Nigeria ever had is 13,000 and that was done within 16 to 20 years, they have been in power. When they were in power, the highest was 7,000 and the available for the public was 3,000 megawatts
“When Umaru Yar’Adua came, he pushed it to about 9,500 megawatts before he died. And Jonathan completed their project to 12,000 megawatts.
“Buhari in his seven years only added 1,000 megawatts. All along this period, Nigeria only has available 5,500 till today. It has now collapsed to about 2,500 megawatts.
“So who builds and generates electricity without corresponding distribution or transmission? That is where they get it wrong. So you can’t be telling me you just built these megawatts without transmission lines to evacuate them. That is why I said these guys have no business in government. It is time for them to quit and retire and face the consequence of the darkness they brought to Nigeria.
“My question to him which he didn’t answer was that you guys spent $16bn to generate and procure darkness for Nigerians. He couldn’t answer that. But he was saying I come to contest and go back every four years. My first time contesting was in 2019 and I have not left. I have been here since that time. But he has left each time he contested. This is going to be his seventh time contesting. I started contesting in 1992 as SU (Students Union) president, Atiku also contested during the SDP primary against Abiola. He lost and I won. It was we that fought for the 1992-93 transition mandate. I didn’t know where he was. He ran away.
“He called for a one-hour interview with Tinubu, but I am inviting all of them for one-hour interviews, Obi, Tinubu, Atiku. Let’s test their record.
“Between 2010 and 2022, the national grid collapsed 209 times. So it was why I was upset when he was talking about collapse in 2022. You guys have been collapsing the grid since you have been in power since 1999 till now.”
Sowore, however, offered solutions to the problems in the power sector, saying, “I have done the homework to discover that when you spend $70m, you are capable of erecting over 2,000 km of transmission and that is the amount we are going to spend to repair the National Assembly.
“So, if you spend $16bn, you are capable of providing transmission all over West Africa. So, generating electricity now requires a lot of technology. And if you understand how the world works, it has to be an energy mix.
“We can easily for the next four years that we will be in power add 15,000 to 20,000 megawatts through gas fire plants. Most of the gas fire plants they built don’t have a supply.
“Egbin has the capacity to generate 1,000 megawatts but it is doing 606. Sapele has the capacity to generate 1,080 megawatts but it is doing less than 200. So when you fire all those plants, you will make it up to 13,000.”
He also proposed investing in solar energy “which is now most popular when talking about the energy transition”.
“The problem is that they built a power plant but because of corruption they didn’t build gas pipelines.
“They haven’t done the right thing and these guys have no idea on how to get it right,” he added.