The Cowboys don’t want to let go of the Power sector

Namadi Sambo ...intends to succeed Goodluck Jonathan

“The process of privatisation has been going on for about ten years but has not been successful due to obvious non-performance” Namadi Sambo
“Many of the privatised companies have not met been able to meet the aspirations of government
” Namadi Sambo
80percent of privatised firms moribund” Namadi Sambo

I have been told by someone who wines and dines with the current government that Power supply as it is today is the highest ever by any Nigerian government in the past 10 years. I was moved to believe him because he sounded convicted and true despite the fact that I had my phone plugged to a socket powered by my generator and despite eventually writing this piece with the really annoying noise of my generator, I still chose to allow the claims pass. I chose not to take him on because I had even more telling revelations to deal with.

I allowed it to pass because I was appalled that a nation that claims to be the giant of Africa would still be grappling with 3000 Mega Watts of power generation when South Africa our brothers are generating some 40,000 Mega Watts. I saw no point in arguing about 3000 mega whatever. At over 40 million, the number of Nigerians that have never seen an electric bulb is almost the entire population of South Africa at about 50 million people. This South African number is only about half of the 60 per cent of the Nigerians that are currently unconnected to electricity. What is 60 per cent of 158 million? 94.8 million Nigerians are unconnected to Power! That could in itself be a pun because majority of Nigerians are indeed disconnected from government itself. Aren’t we all responsible for our power supply? In fact we generate our power at a cost of N50 per kWH. Who truly enjoys the protection of the police? This week alone I have witnessed police brutality as its worst as a bike man was matched on by a bus as the Police Officers chased him and pulled him to the ground when he tried to be smart with their regular illegal N50 collections. The less said about the Nigerian Police the better really.

At the turn of the century Nigeria had an installed capacity of 6000MW and generated about 1500MW for distribution to Nigerians. The historical challenges of the Power sector inspired the Electric Power Sector Reform Act 2005 (EPSR Act 2005). This document is the guide upon which the road map of the Power sector lies. The Obasanjo administration contracted seven new power stations during his second term using the accumulated proceeds of the Excess Crude Account. They were not completed as a result of the same inefficiency that bedevils government’s efforts at getting involved in matters that should be left to the private sector. One of the failures of the Obasanjo administration is the Rural Electrification Agency, where billions of naira meant for rural electrification were apparently mismanaged, hence the eventual collapse of the agency. While Obasanjo was very serious about tackling the Power challenge by involving the private sector and setting a viable agenda for the development of a liberalized Power sector, President Yar’adua refused to proceed with the privatisation of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) entities. He later released a policy orchestrated by Rilwanu Lukman (then Minister of Petroleum Resources) which sidelined the private sector electricity model in favour of state control.

President Yar' Adua was prompted to stall the Power road map of the Obasanjo administration

It is curious to note that the same excuses and tactics applied by the Yar’ Adua administration is currently being played out by this government. The public was made to believe that $16 billion had been expended on Power which yielded far less reaching results. Don’t you think there is more than meets the eye when the Senate’s legislative agenda started with an ad-hoc committee investigating guess what? Privatisation! This is where I begin to reveal the players in this scheme to rob Nigerians of stable Power supply. The principal actors are the Vice President Namadi Sambo who actually has a history of wheeling and dealing when it comes to government matters and the Senate President David Mark who may go head to head with former for the PDP Presidential ticket in 2015. They have actually both come out to blame the privatization process for the failings of the economy and loss of jobs. The Senate President was making declarations that privatization had failed, yet he wants us to believe that the same committee he set up to investigate the process would come up with a result contrary to his conclusions. When the results are out, they will release same to the public in form of scandals and gross failures all in a bid to rubbish the liberalization of the Power sector especially.

Senator David Mark has his eyes on President Goolluck Jonathan's seat

While the Senate President is ensuring the legislative hammer on the process is slammed well enough for a fatal impact on the privatization process, Vice President Namadi Sambo provides the Executive powers to bring the death to a complete burial. In tandem with the anomaly that is Nigeria, isn’t it ironic that the same Namadi Sambo who has openly said Privatisation is the devil is head of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP), the body overseeing Nigeria’s Privatisation process. The above quoted words were uttered by the Vice President and were actually published in the news media. It is an obvious attempt to call a dog a bad name in order to have the status quo remain so that money expected for government to run the show will be at their behest. This is expected to be in tens of billions of US dollars and enough to mount a Presidential challenge in 2015.

One can only hope and expect that President Goodluck Jonathan will be as expedite here as he was with ensuring the removal of Justice Ayo Salami’s removal as the President of the Court of Appeal. If anything happens to the Road map of the Power sector as it currently is as it guarantees the privatisation of electricity generation and distribution, only the transmission of Power would be left for the Private sector. These plan will be sold to the unsuspecting public as a strategy in the best interest of the masses but it is actually in the best interest of these men who see their hold on Power (in both senses) as their God given heritage. If his words are anything to go by, the number one enemy of the Privatisation of the Power sector is Architect Namadi Sambo the Vice President of Nigeria who is also the person saddled with the responsibility of ensuring the privatization process works out. Mad house you’d say!

President Jonathan...A lot will depend on his political will to step on toes

While you ponder on whether privatisation is the problem or not, I’ll take you back memory lane – When GSM came into Nigeria and the race started, the most inefficient service provider was government’s Mtel and it remains the only GSM company that actually died completely. This was after it had been mismanaged and ran aground and the usual probes, accusations counter accusations later…Mtel is gone with the wind. NTA VS DSTV? Radio Nigeria VS Cool FM (add Beat FM, Rhythm FM, Classic FM, Kiss FM etc), Daily Times VS Punch Newspapers? Nigeria Airways VS Air Nigeria (add Emirates, Arik, Dana et al), Public secondary schools VS Private ones? MTN (despite all its troubles) VS Nitel? Old Government Banks VS GTBank (Zenith Bank, UBA et al).

Would you rather pay less and stay in darkness or pay more and enjoy power? The multinationals that answered this question did so by moving to Ghana. In the end we all pay more for the less we seek because CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi said, “The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and the National Association of Small-Scale Industries have estimated that their members spend an average of $1.8bn on power generation weekly. At the individual level, it is estimated that about 60 million Nigerians now own generators for their electricity, while the same number of people spend a staggering N1.56 trillion (about $13.35 billion) to fuel them annually.”

Even President Jonathan said that households spend about $13bn yearly to fuel their generators. The Central Bank of Nigeria corroborated this figure and added that companies spend about N93.6tr yearly to generate their own electricity.

This is why we must all ensure that the Road Map of the Power sector does not end with the numerous Road Shows and the successful attempt of the Cow Boys to retain the same government inefficiency that has helped to keep them as billionaires without economic production of any form.

At this point we must all keep our minds open, our eyes shining ever brightly because as far these ones are concerned, 2015 started the day President Jonathan said he was not going to run after this term. That is why the tenure elongation issue sat well with both Namadi Sambo and David Mark.
While these ones are oiling the machine for 2015, what are we doing as young Nigerians?

Follow Japheth J Omojuwa on twitter @omojuwa

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In the beginning...Let there be Light

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