Editorial

As the new Minister of Power assumes duty…

The new Minister of Power, Alhaji Abubakar Aliyu, has asked Nigerians not to expect quick results but to be patient with him in the discharge of his responsibilities.

 

Aliyu made the appeal while assuming duty recently. “No, I am not a magician, but I am here to add value to what is being done,” he said. He enjoined the employees of the ministry to be dedicated to the job at hand, assuring them of his support to enable them to perform maximally.

 

Aliyu stressed the need for all stakeholders, including the workers, to live above board, saying: “I like good character and honestly as I have never lied and will not want anyone to do that to me.’’

 

New Telegraph congratulates the new Power Minister and wishes him success in his new assignment.

 

No doubt, Aliyu requires the cooperation of all including the employees of the ministry to succeed. We are happy that he is connecting with the concept of collaboration which is the discovered secret to success in all human activities at different levels.

 

We also note with pleasure Aliyu’s humility not to see himself as a loneranger or sole administrator, like some political office-holders, but to appreciate the strength and value of teamwork.

 

But New Telegraph frowns upon the remark by the minister that Nigerians should not expect quick results from him but to be patient as he was not a magician.

 

By that statement, Aliyu was advertently or inadvertently indicating that he did not and perhaps still does not appreciate the load of responsibilities on his shoulders. Nigerians desire uninterrupted electricity and if it means beckoning at a magician or miracle-worker to deliver such utility to the laps of the citizens, they would gladly welcome and cling to it.

 

Regular power supply will expectedly result in an improved economy, as the cost of production on account of dependence on private power supply, will plummet. This will leave the entrepreneurs and business outfits with the luxury of funds to either be committed to savings or be ploughed back into the running of the operations of their business concerns.

 

The minister’s emphasis on the attributes of character, honesty and truth is heart-warming. Should all stakeholders, including workers at the Ministry of Power, possess the qualities of character, honesty and truth, then the job of the Minister could be likened to having been reduced to a mere tea-party for the new occupant.

 

But the work of the Minister of Power should be spared of such oversimplification.

 

No, it is not, and cannot be a tea-party. It is, at best, one of the most intellectually and professionallydemanding ministerial positions in Nigeria. Acknowledged, Mr. President is at liberty to appoint his preferred candidates to positions within the Executive Branch of government, it is, however, incumbent on him to ensure that all his appointees are not only people of character but also of competence.

 

Aliyu’s longing for wholesome character, honesty and truth is merely idealistic. The power sector that he is its new presiding officer is heavily enveloped in dishonesty, injustice, inequity, falsehood and compromised characters, which are the exact opposite of what he stands

and yearns for and the confronting realities are unlikely to take Nigerians to the Promised Land of uninterrupted power supply. Different individuals and entities generate power but are required by law to transfer the generated utility to the centrally-controlled National Grid to handle the distribution of power to the different parts of the country. Given the fact that the distribution is aimed at ensuring that power is transmitted to all parts, including the dependent areas, the distributed utility becomes thinly-spread, inadequate and is eventually rationed in order to ensure a measure of even distribution. In recurring instances, uninterrupted power supply across the nation has, sadly, remained a mission unaccomplished. The continued over-centralisation of the distribution of electricity through the National Grid has played a major role in the epileptic power supply across the country. Another major obstacle is the establishment of multiple electricityoriented agencies sometimes with overlapping responsibilities and resulting in the high cost of governance. Since Aliyu has given indication that he is a man of honour, New Telegraph enjoins him to remain so. He should go ahead to this self-evaluation anchored on honesty, character and truth by dealing with one of the major obstacles of the electricity sector, which is embedded in the over-centralisation through the National Grid.

 

The Minister of Power will need to persuade Mr. President to send an Executive Bill to the National Assembly. The bill should seek to remove electricity from the Exclusive Legislative List and make it possible for all those who are able to generate electricity to also distribute the utility to consumers.

 

The service-providers will make money, thereby giving the relevant public agencies the opportunity to enhance their financial fortunes through tax collection.

 

Professional and pressure should also step forward to engage the obviously pro-Executive Arm of Government Ninth National Assembly on the need to take to the proactive path by going ahead to debate a Private Member’s Bill to actualize the outlined goal. Multiple agencies, with sometimes not-distinctly defined responsibilities, exist in the electricity sector.

 

While we request the Minister of Power to compel the agencies to have clearly-defined functions, he should resist the promptings of the political class and other persons in the corridors and rooms of power to create additional agencies thereby worsening the already high cost of governance.

 

It stands logic on the head that Nigeria, which started generating and consuming electricity in 1896, with Lagos as a trailblazer, following the scientific-cum-engineering breakthrough of a first – generation public agency, the Public Works Department (PWD), will still have herself held down by recurring power failure.

 

This is a shame and how not to tell the story of a country, which at independence on October 1, 1960, was at par in terms of economic development with India, Pakistan, Malaysia and Singapore, among many others.

 

This is why New Telegraph urges the minister to give full meaning to his claim of being a man of truth, character and honesty by matching his words with action to implement the above recommendations for uninterrupted electricity supply henceforth

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