Crucial to the industrialisation dream of Nigeria is the need to develop the energy sector. Considering the role of the power sector in promoting industrialisation, no nation can attain socio-economic advancement without the development of power. Earlier in the life of his administration, President Muhammadu Buhari left no one in doubt of his resolve to tackle the many obstinate problems trailing the energy sector.
Unlike previous administrations that were engaged in spending whopping sums of money to address challenges bedeviling the sector, Buhari saw the need to get the right people, including partnering with global power firms to end the long nightmares of national darkness caused by constant electricity outages.
To pull out the sector from its long sojourn from the wilderness of constant blackouts, Buhari reached out to the former German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, for assistance. This effort would culminate into striking a deal with Siemens for a $2 billion electricity project aimed at providing power infrastructure with the single-minded target of increasing electricity generation to 25,000 megawatts by 2025, among others.
In driving away the national darkness caused by power outages, certain logjams needed to be resolved, following the fallouts of the privatisation programme that unbundled the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) into 18 companies. Unbundling the power behemoth had eliminated the tailbacks that had turned the old PHCN into a huge financial drain for the government. However, there were still many rivers to cross in resolving problems associated with the energy sector in terms of generation, transmission and distribution
If the determination of the Buhari-led government had suffered inactivity in tackling problems confronting the energy sector during its first tenure, the re-election of the President in 2019 marked the commencement of better days for the sector. It was obvious that Buhari’s first tenure was fraught with hiccups as the country whirled under ceaseless power breakdowns that led to the destruction of critical power infrastructure in various parts of the country.
Despite clouds of uncertainties that had seized the nation’s skies in advancing the growth of the electricity sector, Buhari demonstrated his determination in streamlining processes expected to turn around our national darkness that had thrown its shroud of frightening uncertainties over the energy sector. The formal signing of the Siemens deal in 2019 brought renewed hope as the initiative now brought under the Presidential Power Initiative (PPI) revealed that no stone was left unturned in pulling through the Siemens project.
In riding the nation of unnecessary inflexible holdups behind constant incessant outages, the sacking in May 2020 of the then Managing Director of TCN, Mr. Usman Gur Mohammed, who was more involved in supervising recurring collapse of the national grid, proved a turning point. He was quickly replaced with Engr. Sule Ahmed Abdulaziz, a seasoned professional of over two decades of experience in the power sector. On his appointment as the TCN MD in May 2020, he worked assiduously towards steadying the prospects of power transmission in Nigeria in collaboration with critical stakeholders. The TCN under his leadership would later resolve the $100 million fibre optic network infrastructure concession project that had been smeared in legal fireworks. The real time monitoring of power lines through the deployment of Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) was also said to have commenced, with the instant result leading to the reduction in the rate of recurring collapses of the national grid.
A graduate of M.Sc. Electronic/Automation Engineering from the Technical University, Sofia, Bulgaria, Engr. Abdulaziz has turned out a true professional in re-aligning the TCN to assist the Minister of Power, Engr Mamman Saleh, in realising the objectives as envisioned by the administration for the energy sector. Little wonder that since his appointment as the TCN boss, he has aligned the vision of the transmission company with that of the Federal Government as shown in the commitment by Engr. Saleh to broaden and improved the proficiency of the electricity sector.
Recently, there were media reports on the subtle bickering over the delayed inauguration of a new board for the TCN as announced by government. According to the report, Alhaji Muhammad Ahmad, who once served as the Chairman of the National Pension Commission, has been appointed to serve as Chairman of the new board. Reliable sources and industry experts have expressed fears that the inauguration of the board may have been temporarily put on hold, following the approval of government to unbundle the TCN into a Transmission Service Provider (TSP) to be solely involved in developing transmission grid to new areas and another company to be in charge of Systems Operator (S/O) that will be strictly involved in operating the entire system that includes GENCOs & DISCOs. Other functions of the S/O will also include determining “which power station comes on and when and by how many MW, decides which transmission line or transmission station should be supplied what quantity of MW i.e., load shedding, and enforces Grid discipline.”
Recognising the fact that tackling the many problems plaguing Nigeria’s power sector cannot be achieved without competent leadership endowed with requisite knowledge of the sector, the leadership traits of Engr. Saleh has established an unrivalled commitment in pulling the power sector out of the woods through professional approaches.
As an experienced electrical engineer who acquired an MBA to hone his managerial skills, the Taraba-born technocrat and politician has succeeded in creating synergies among critical partners in advancing the goals of developing Nigeria’s electricity sector. Saleh’s determination to walk the vision of the power sector as envisioned by the Buhari’s administration was solidified when he recommended Engr Abdulaziz to take charge of TCN, a company that serves as a bridge between the generation and distribution network of the electricity sector.
The Siemens project is set to overhaul the electricity sector through the development of infrastructure. Therefore, it is noteworthy to state here that any planned inauguration of the TCN board must await the unbundling of the company in determining what next moves to be taken. Taking into consideration the mileage achieved in turning around the fortunes of the sector, inaugurating the TCN board when consultations with critical stakeholders have not been exhaustive amounts to a deliberate act of spinning the system out of its destined vision.
Engr. Saleh must not allow a cabal with vast connections to influential persons within and outside the corridor of power to frustrate the vision of President Buhari in addressing the many problems afflicting the nation’s power sector. All critical partners pertinent for the development of the energy sector should be consulted before the inauguration of the new board for the TCN.
It is heart-warming that the Minister of Power has already allayed fears over the new board as he has declared that the process for the inauguration of the board is an ongoing one. Fortunately, signals have emerged that the President has already waded into the matter and directed the Secretary of the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, to liaise with the Ministry of Power and other relevant energy stakeholders to resolve issues regarding both the planned inauguration of the board, with a possible review of the board’s membership and any other issues pivotal to the development of the electricity sector.
In view of the sterling willpower and the strides of the Ministry of Power under his leadership, Engr Saleh must not to let go of the vision for an improved electricity sector that works for Nigeria. There is no better time than now to ensure that the challenges bedeviling the electricity sector are finally combated and eliminated.
As a nation, Nigeria has continued to be a laughing stock of the world in turning around the fortunes of its energy sector. The time has come for this administration to prove that saving our nation from the horrifying spectre of national darkness is a task that must be carried out, no matter whose ox is gored.