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Nigeria’s Diplomat Tasks President-Elect on Power Sector Reform

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By Ishaq Dan-Imam, Lokoja

A former Nigerian Diplomat and scholar, Ambassador Godknows Igali, has advised the incoming administration of President-Elect, Senator Bola Tinubu to refocus the Government’s investment in the electric power sector for sustainable development of the energy sector in the economic interest of Nigeria.

In a presentation at the Ist Memorial Lecture Series in honour of the late Engr. Joseph Makonju, Nigeria’s iconic energy expert, organized by the Federal University, Lokoja, Dr. Igali, noted that the current Power Sector Recovery Programme of the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has achieved over five thousand megawatts of electricity for Nigeria, stressing the need for consolidation on the achievement by the next administration because according to him, the Buhari’s milestone in the power sector creates room for sustainable improvement of Nigeria’s energy sector.

“None is in doubt that the reform of the sector was well intended at ensuring a well-developed National Power Sector Industry.   However, it is common knowledge that improvements in service delivery have been lackluster and have been unable to meet the expected targets.  The implication of insufficient power according to the World Bank is a gross economic loss of about $26 billion (over N10 trillion every year). The reasons for these are complex and unyielding.

“These include:

i.        serious payment issues;

ii.       unimpressive regulator of the sector;

iii.      low level of capital infusion; and

iv.      limited energy mix.

“For a population of the size of Nigeria, the proper development of its power sector is critical to the country’s march into a rightful standing as one of the leading economies of the world.   At a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of about $500 billion, Nigeria is already the leading economy in Africa.  However, this could be well bolstered if the country would be able to get its power sector right and bring to a conclusion the sector reforms.  These include the Power Sector Policy, of 2001, the EPSR Act of 2005, the Power Sector Reform Road Map of 2010, and the current Power Sector Recovery Program of the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.

“Although power generation reached a peak of 5,075 megawatts, this was at best a spike and no substantial progress has been made beyond that,” he noted.

 What Government has to do “Going forward, a number of things will need to be critically examined and worked on.

“Most fundamental is the overall supervisory and regulatory environment. 

In the new privatized environment, as it is in the rest of the world, the Federal Minister of Power is expected under the regulation of the Heads of State to provide robust policy guidance and supervision in the sector. Without interfering in any way in day-to-day activities, this responsibility has to be carried out with greater thoroughness.”

Amb. Igali advised the incoming administration to ensure strict policy guidance in implementing Nigeria’s power sector recovery program initiated by the Buhari administration to revive the energy system.

“The Presidential Action Committee on Power (PACP) was set up to hold high-level meetings of all stakeholders personally chaired by Mr. President at scheduled intervals “weekly, bi-weekly and monthly”.

“This problem-solving and decision-making platform needs to be revived.  There was also the Presidential Task Force on Power (PTFP) which was a full-time ad-hoc agency, that brought together young talented Nigerians both from within and diaspora to brainstorm daily on performance strategies and targets in the sector.

“This body considered an Ombudsman that helped the sector to experience the growth which occurred was disbanded, thereby creating a gaping vacuum.

“Recently the current administration working together with development partners has come up with what is called Central Data Management System (CDMS).  This tool is expected to aid the Federal Ministry of Power and other market participants, both public and private, in monitoring the infrastructure

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