The Friday television interview by the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has attracted several reactions from Nigerians.
In the one-hour exclusive interview with Arise TV, the former vice president made several claims that are subject to verification. Daily Trust takes a look at three of those claims.
Claim 1: Atiku had while expressing his thoughts on Peter Obi’s chances of upsetting his presidential ambition in the next year’s presidential election, said 90 per cent of Nigerians from the northern part of the country are not on social media.
“…They were saying through social media, they have more than one million votes in Osun State but how many people voted for Labour Party? And there again mark you, you are talking about social media, in the North 90 per cent of our people are not tuned to social media,” he said.
Are 90% of northerners not on social media?
Nigeria is divided into six geopolitical zones, with both the North and South having three each. The Northwest, Northeast and North-central zones make up the northern part with a total of 19 states out of 36, excluding the Federal Capital Territory.
According to Statista, of over 200 million Nigerians, 110 million people have access to the Internet with 53.15 million on social media as of 2022.
Data by datareportal shows that there were 32.90 million social media users in Nigeria as a whole in January 2022.
The number of social media users in Nigeria at the start of 2022 was equivalent to 15.4 per cent of the total population, but it’s important to note that social media users may not represent unique individuals.
Although one can safely say that there is higher number of social media users in the South compared to North due to stronger Internet penetration in the former, there is no known data supporting Atiku’s assertion that 90 per cent of Northerners are not on social media. Hence the basis of Atiku’s claim is unfounded.
Claim 2: Atiku had also while reacting to the criticism and allegation by the rights activist and presidential candidate of African Action Congress (AAC), Omoyele Sowore, that $16 billion voted for electricity project during former President Olusegun Obasanjo-led administration could not solve the nation’s electricity problems claimed that the administration met power generation capacity at 4,000 Megawatts and increased it to 13,000 Megawatts.
He said, “When we came in 1999, the total generation (capacity) was about 4,000 Megawatts. We initiated the building of nine additional power stations and by the time those nine were finished, the capacity has gone up from 4,000 Megawatts to about 13,000 Megawatts.”
Checks by Daily Trust shows that Atiku’s claim that generation capacity in 1999 when Obasanjo-administration came to power was 4,000 Megawatts is false and misleading.
While responding to a summon by the House committee probing the expenditure in power sector between 1999 and 2007, Obasanjo in a letter dated May 12, 2008 said his administration inherited installed capacity of 6,000 Megawatts.
“Although 6,000 MW capacity was claimed in 1999, only 1,500MW was being generated. Ijora and Oji River thermal based on coal have completely closed down for lack of coal production and early gas thermal units at Afam and Delta were obsolete and needed replacement,” Obasanjo wrote.
Claim 3: The former vice president also posited that when transmission lines cannot evacuate the power produced, the grid would collapse.
“….That is why anytime there is an increase in power generation, then you have a transmission system that cannot evacuate the power; there will be a collapse,” Atiku had said during the interview.
While Atiku’s position is true, it is not the only factor that can lead to the national grid collapse.
A report noted that this year alone, aside from gas lines supplying the fuel to thermal-powered facilities, there have been direct strikes on assets run by the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) for which innocent consumers have suffered the consequences.
Corroborating this, the Ministry of Power had in April issued a statement apologising to citizens after a collapse which it attributed to vandalism.
The statement read, “Further to our earlier press release, we wish to apprise the general public that the immediate cause of national blackout (system collapse) was an act of vandalism on a transmission tower on the Odukpani Ikot Ekpene 330KV double circuit transmission line thus resulting in a sudden loss of about 400MW of generation. This consequently led to a cascade of plant shut down across the country.”
Few days ago, the national grid collapsed again, prompting the TCN to issue a statement. The company noted that “the incident was a result of a sudden drop in system frequency from 49.94 Hertz (HZ) to 47.36Hz, which created system instability.”
Spokesperson for the company, Mrs Ndidi Mbah, said that reports from the National Control Centre revealed that the collapse was precipitated by the tripping of a unit with a load of 106 Megawatts (MW) in one of the generating stations due to “exhaust over temperature.”
A train of events ensued, culminating in the collapse of the national grid. As obtainable in all systems, when a component of the electric power system is defective, the entire configuration is vitiated,” she said.
It should be noted that while the national grid could collapse in the event of an imbalance in demand and supply, there are more severe factors that could lead to the collapse of the national power grid.