The Nigerian Power Consumers Forum (NPCF) has revealed that the recent collapse of the national power grid was the result of deliberate sabotage by individuals with ill intentions for the country. Mr. Michael Okoh, the Convener of NPCF, made this revelation during a press conference held on Thursday.
Mr. Okoh strongly emphasized that the grid collapse was not a consequence of insufficient capacity on the part of the power company. He stated, “The fire incident at the Birnin Kebbi transmission substation switchyard is more of a sabotage on the national grid systems.”
Experts in the field support this claim, asserting that it is technically implausible for two power transformers, located at a considerable distance from each other, to ignite simultaneously. Transformers are equipped with built-in protection systems, and the likelihood of them catching fire is minimal. However, saboteurs could employ various methods to disrupt the electricity flow by removing transformer components, Mr. Okoh explained.
An immediate investigation into the incident revealed that both the 90 Mega Volt Ampere (MVA) transformer on the 330KV line and the 60 MVA transformer on the 132KV line experienced simultaneous fires despite their separation by a reasonable distance. Voltage or surge issues were ruled out, as the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) has robust protection and isolation mechanisms in place. Instead, it appears that the problem was confined to internal issues within the transformers.
Mr. Okoh pointed out that this act of sabotage is not an isolated incident, citing numerous cases of oil theft rupturing pipelines and hacking of power transmission towers. The TCN reported over 20 such cases in the past year alone.
In the wake of these incidents, the power sector has suffered consecutive system collapses, resulting in widespread power outages. The NPCF suspects that these outages are intended to tarnish the reputation of TCN’s management. While investigations are ongoing, all evidence points to sabotage, as the two transformers were not connected and operated on different voltage levels and transmission lines.
The importance of the Kebbi substation, both nationally and internationally, cannot be understated. It plays a pivotal role in supplying power to Niger Republic. The NPCF strongly suggests the presence of external forces working against the nation’s transmission system and calls upon the government to identify and bring the saboteurs to justice.
Despite these challenges, TCN has demonstrated commendable performance, maintaining grid stability for 421 days. The current TCN management, led by Mr. Sule Abdulaziz, has made significant strides in improving access to bulk electricity, with the delivery and deployment of over 30 power transformers in 2022, covering all six geopolitical zones.
Furthermore, the NPCF has independently assessed TCN’s initiatives from 2022 to 2023, confirming their efforts to stabilize the grid, including the utilization of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the ongoing procurement of a state-of-the-art Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA)/Energy Management System (EMS).
On behalf of Nigerian electricity consumers, the NPCF urges TCN to continue investing in the transmission network, particularly in lines reconductoring, and to proactively safeguard other substations against future acts of sabotage.