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Goodluck Jonathan And The Power Ministry

By Ben Nanaghan
01 May 2010   |   10:00 pm
The decision of President Goodluck Jonathan to also head the Ministry of Power has drawn both constructive criticisms and pungent flaks from both sides of the divide. Some self-adjudged experts in the power sector did not give the President even the least chance of success in his new assignment.Electricity production and distribution is a very…
The decision of President Goodluck Jonathan to also head the Ministry of Power has drawn both constructive criticisms and pungent flaks from both sides of the divide. Some self-adjudged experts in the power sector did not give the President even the least chance of success in his new assignment.

Electricity production and distribution is a very vital input for economic success in developed nations of the world. Nigeria is not the only country in the world with power and energy matters under the presidency. Brazil compared to Nigeria is a highly developed nation yet President Da Souza decided to keep the Brazilian Power Ministry under his purview. It is the wisest step to take in countries with profound and endemic electricity woes and where the President is patriotic, dedicated and has the political will to change a very dark situation to bring bright and incandescent sunny days.

President Goodluck Jonathan has come with a mission to change our old and corrupt ways to imbibe in us a dose of patriotism and nationalism, to protect and fight for what jointly belongs to us as Nigerians. President Goodluck Jonathan deserves the unflinching support of all Nigerian lovers and patriots to enable him wrestle and overcome the “principalities and powers” that are Nigeria’s former leaders and problems. President Jonathan’s humility and the opponent’s conviction that the President was not a firebrand enough to bark and bite will be the opponent’s greatest undoing. But before long those who undermine and underestimate the President’s intentions and abilities will realize albeit too late that they had been wrong.

Some “has-been” “experts” jostling for ministerial appointment, placarding their experience have condemned the President’s initiative ab initio. But they have forgotten that President Goodluck Jonathan is neither a novice in the power sector nor even lily livered to confront the cabal of Generals in the power sector. Have we forgotten so soon that as Vice President (and even now) Goodluck Jonathan was the Chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee on the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP). He was also the Chairman of the National Council on Privatization of Nigerian parastatals. The President is better equipped to achieve results in any of the Federal Ministries than any of the Ministers. I am more than convinced that the President has more facts and information on the power situation in Nigeria than any former Minister in the sector.

For instance in February 2009 after a meeting of the Presidential Steering Committee headed by Goodluck Jonathan, the then Minister of Mines and Power briefed the Press thus, “some outstanding logistics and funding issues have slowed down the projects” (NIPP). These outstanding logistics and funding issues are all well known to President Goodluck Jonathan. The aforementioned minister was diplomatic enough not to let the world know that the outstanding logistics and funding issues refer to the NIPP’s greatest challenge of unexecuted projects. The President has therefore established an impeccable reason for taking over the Ministry of Power without people knowing his inner motives.

Fullly paid unexecuted contracts is the greatest challenge of the NIPP. And it is one of President Goodluck Jonathan’s greatest challenges. These contracts were awarded to Nigeria’s untouchable sacred cows who spend Government money as if it is their fundamental human right. Funding electricity or NIPP has never been Nigeria’s problem. Nigeria has spent about $20BN on such fundings with nothing to show for it but private universities and stolen wealth stashed away in foreign bank vaults with coded secrets.

The President is aware of the almost impossible challenges in the power sector and he has willingly taken the bull by the horn. The President is very much aware that this is a raging bull, not a bull in a china shop. Chief Bola Ige with nationalistic fervour took on the Ministry of Power to turn Nigeria into Singapore within 6 months but his ambitions patriotism was stifled by the assassin’s bullets. sponsored by the cabal identified by Olusegun Adeniyi (President Yar Adua’s Senior Adviser on Media). In Jan. 2009, the President’s spokesperson disclosed that the “Federal Government has uncovered a strong cabal sabotaging electricity in Nigeria and that it benefits this strong cabal for the power sector to malfunction”. But up till date this hidden cabal has not been exposed.

To succeed in this dare-devil act of Nationalism and Patriotism, President Goodluck Jonathan must promptly break this “strong cabal” in the power sector. He has the full weight of the Nigeria Constitution behind him. And also as president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and as Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, he controls and has enormous powers not only to break, even the strongest cabal but to expose and send all of them behind bars for life.

I can not read the President’s mind’s construction on his face but I know that Mr. President is a man with a generous mien but indiscernible bowel. I do not have any doubt in my mind that the President will succeed in his task of bringing sanity to Nigeria’s horizon of darkness bearing however the limited time frame at his disposal. In the media chat of December 2007, President Umaru Musa Yar Adua unequivocally promised to declare a state of National Emergency 10 months on ascending power. He also promised a power rise from 3000mws to 10,000mws in December 2008, 30,000mws in 2010 and 50,000 in 2015. But after realizing that all the promises had been sabotaged by the newly discovered cabal, the Federal Government now promised 6000 mws which did not materialize too. And today Nigeria’s wattage is hovering between 2000 and 2700mws. What a shame!

South Korea produces an incredible 3.6 million MWS of electricity. They consume 3.5 millions mws and they do export the surplus 137,000mws. South Korea’s sources of electricity production are as follows fossil fuel – 62.4%, hydro – 0.8%, nuclear 36.6% others 0.2%. It is a national shame to note such statistical disparity even though South Korea is among the 10 most developed economies in the world. South Korea has a population far less than half of Nigeria’s.

Even in comparing with African countries, Nigeria comes off pitiably worse. South Africa has an almost over ambitious plan with its revolutionary energy technology called the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) which is a 21st century concept in Nuclear Energy and power. South Africa produces 50,000 MWs of electricity for its 45 million people and exports electricity to some African countries. Over 80% of South Africa is fed from the National grid while rural electrification complements the balance. Ghana with a population of 23.9mn uses 1743mws and intends to achieve 6000mws with the upgrading of facilities at the Akosombo Dam, the Black Volta River Project in Bui and the KMR Power IPP in Tema among others. Early in 2008, Ghana celebrated one year of uninterrupted electricity supply while Nigeria cannot boast of a steady supply for one second of sustained electricity. What a shame!

After breaking and dislodging the power cabals, President Goodluck Jonathan should concentrate on the revolution of Nigeria’s hydroelectricity which is our main source of power today. Most of our turbines and facilities are obsolete and non-functional. Our dams are in a sorry state of disrepair and new hydro plants have not been built in recent years. Nigeria is blessed with a good river network which makes hydro electricity our single largest potential source of electricity. In the same perspective, our hydro electricity potential which remains largely untapped and obsolete is sufficient to provide this great country with at least 100,000 mws if we expand our facilities and maintain existing ones. Now that there is peace in the Niger Delta, the wanton destruction of gas pipelines is now a thing of the past and PHCN and the Federal Government will not have to worry about gas shortage.

President Goodluck Jonathan should lay foundations for long term solutions like the clean coal technology, fossil fuel, wind, solar and nuclear technology. Nigeria has enough coal yet untapped to complement our electricity needs but the environmental pollution aspect of coal-derived electricity is sometimes burdensome even in very advanced countries. Japan, America and the advanced countries of the world have successful records of solar and wind-derived electricity technology. Nigeria can from today lay the bricks for a vibrant electricity programme that will see us exporting electricity to many African countries who are in dire need of this scarce commodity.

Even though it is an expensive investment especially in the areas of clean coal and nuclear technology which requires the meticulous environmental monitoring of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it is a worthy opportunistic infrastructural investment. President Goodluck Jonathan has already set up his committee made up of the Governor of the Central Bank, the Accountant General of the Federation, The Minster of Finance and the DG of the Bureau for Public Enterprises. The President has also shown enough political will to move ahead with this project. But perhaps President Goodluck Jonathan’s greatest challenge will be the resistance of the cabal and internal corruption within both the Presidency and the PHCN.

It benefits so many groups of people for PHCN to malfunction. The importers of generators, the importers of petroleum products and the Nations these imports are coming from. For instance China, Japan and South Korea are having a generator trade boom in Nigeria, thus boosting their GDPs with an increased per capita income. Today the Japanese and Chinese economies are occupying second and third positions in the world with $5.1TRN and $4.9TRN Dollar respectively. And there is also an incontestable nexus between a non functional PHCN and our non functional refineries. Perhaps when our refineries are maximally operative there will be no reason to import diesel and petrol for our generators. And when PHCN functions efficiently there will be no reason to import generators as in South Africa, Ghana, South Korea and even Republic of Benin.

An Indonesian Prime Minister under President Sukarno in 1962 said sadly about his country thus: “God is for us, but we are against ourselves.” Prime Minister Djuanda was very sad about the poverty, corruption and ethnic violence in a country that was so naturally blessed and endowed, just as we have in Nigeria today.

*Nanaghan lives in Lagos.