Available data indicate that Nigeria’s electricity supply, though a perennial problem, remained erratic throughout the two year tenure of the former power minister, Engr Sale Mamman.
Despite massive investment in the power sector on his watch, the country’s peak power generation remained abysmal.
From the all-time daily peak generation of 5,420.30 megawatts on August 18, 2019 few days to Saleh’s appointment, generation dropped to a peak of 4,701.40 megawatts on August 31, 2021.
Saleh during his one year in office had said that over the past year, $6.150 billion (about N2.373 trillion) had been secured for infrastructural development and earmarked for critical projects.
The grants were meant for critical projects including $2.3 billion for Siemens, $1.6 billion for Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Programme (TREP), $1.7 billion for Distribution, $550 million for the Nigerian Electricity Project (NEP), a rural electrification project being funded by the World Bank and the African Development Bank (AFDB).
Mamman had said with the fund, the ministry had begun implementing critical infrastructure to transform the generation, transmission, and distribution of 25,000MW of electricity by 2025.
In addition to these, the country committed much more funds into the sector during his second year with little to show for it.
In his submission, Kola Olubiyo, president, Nigeria Consumer Protection Network,backed the action of the president.
“The action of President Muhammadu Buhari in dropping the ministers and members of cabinet for non-performance is quite commendable..
“It was a case of lameduck, lackadaisical and laissez faire attitude towards serious national policy issues that affect the PMB’s Economic Sustainability Strategic Programme,” adding that some cabinet members exhibit what is called ‘I don’t care attitude’ in Nigerian parlance.
“We have never had this magnitude of unprecedented, nonchalant attitude by the privileged elite in highly esteemed positions of authority.
“The decision by President Muhammadu Buhari to drop some ministers and rejig his cabinet is a step in the right direction.
“it is our desires and hope that Mr. President Muhammadu will do a full circle re-shufflement of his cabinet in the days to come in order to inject fresh energy, fresh blood and provide the much needed impetus for re- calibration, total overhaul and rejigging of his cabinet,” he said.
Also speaking with LEADERSHIP, Adetayo Adegbemle, executive director of PowerupNig, said the cabinet reshuffle was overdue and a welcome development, especially with power and agriculture being pivotal to the daily livelihood of every Nigerian.
Adegbemle noted that the power ministry had lost steam in the last two years which also coincided with the period the previous minister in charge was removed.
He observed that policy directions and leadership were clearly lacking.
“Power generation has also changed, but this cannot be tied down to any specific intervention by the former minister, meeting it at an average of 3,700MW in 2019 and leaving it at an average of 4,200MW.
“Even though we have an interim leadership, it would be expected that strong leadership of the power sector is required of whoever is put in charge.”
He said that a quick review and audit of the Power Sector is needed as the five-year post-privatisation of the sector had been due since 2019 and the new minister would do well to champion this.
“The federal government also funded the national mass metering programme, an intervention quite like the NIPP, but for metering there is need for an accelerated process.
“There’s also a quick need for the Corporate Governance of the Privatised Power Companies to be looked into. Work is already cut out for whoever is made to lead the power ministry,” he added.
In his reaction, Engr. Kola Balogun, chairman and chief executive officer of Momas Electricity Meter Manufacturing Company, MEMMCOL, complained of lack of advocacy on the part of the ministry to help in achieving the government’s mass metering initiative.
Balogun observed that termination of the appointment of the minister may not be unconnected with frequent system collapse which heightened in the last few months.
He urged the incoming minister to prioritise metering of electricity consumers as it will help to stabilise the power distribution subsector.
On her part, Joy Ogaji, the MD/CEO/executive secretary of the Association of Power Generation Companies (APGC), advised the incoming minister to advance synergy among inter-related agencies and ensure closer collaboration with critical stakeholders to accelerate the government’s transformation agenda in the industry.
Available data also showed that high food price inflation has been a persistent problem in Nigeria since the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It stood at 21 per cent in July, having risen from 13.17 per cent in August 2019 when the former minister of agriculture, Nanono, was appointed.
The World Bank has warned that millions of Nigerians are being pushed into poverty and food insecurity because of steep rises in the prices of staple goods.