The most critical sector sectori of any economy where virtually all developing and developed countries have invested heavily for rapid growth and development is power generation and distribution. It is an undergird for sustainable economic growth for any serious nation.
Unfortunately, in Nigeria reverse is the case. Successive Nigerian governments have siphoned humongous amount of money in the guise of power generation without commensurate improvements in the sector; the country is still groping in darkness with industries shutting down or devising other sources of energy for their operations.
In fact, the power situation in Nigeria has further deteriorated under the present government of President Muhammadu Buhari. The Buhari government has sank millions of dollars into the power sector and signed several memoranda of understanding, MoUs, particularly on the age-long Mambila Hydropower project, which it uses for needless propaganda.
It’s pertinent to note that Buhari had criticised previous administrations, especially, the Olusegun Obasanjo government, for doing little or nothing to develop the power sector. Buhari berated Obasanjo, claiming he wastef $16 billion on power whereas in fairness to the latter, only $3.5 billion (at the time the exchange rate was N150 /$1). Yet, the Obasanjo administration successfully built some power generation stations across the country under the National Integrated Power Projects, NIPPs. Projects like Omotoso, Papalanto, Gerengu and Alaoji gas plants were duly completed. They significantly improved the power generation in the county, otherwise the situation would have been worse.
I am not holding brief for Obasanjo, but the truth is that he performed than Buhari, who unjustly accused him of mismanaging funds allocated to the power sector. Surprisingly, Buhari, through his media aides, Bashir Ahmed and Garba Shehu had sometimes in 2017 and 2018 claimed that the government has revisited the Mambilla project. His assurance that equipment have since been deployed to the site turned out to be mere political propaganda to hoodwink some gullible Nigerians.
Former power minister, now works and housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, had during the 7th Annual Bola Ahmed Tinubu Colloquium, just a few days before the 2015 general election, claimed that those previously managing power were ‘amateurs’. Incidentally, he later held sway as the minister of power for 42 months without any tangible achievement until he was relieved from supervising the ministry.
The recent revelation by the Hausa reporter of the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, that work on the Mambilla power project not commenced and that there was nothing on the site explains the lackadaisical attitude of the Buhari government to issues of development. In spite of his previous comment on the project, Garba Shehu, in what seems to be crisis management, claimed that the commencement of the project is hindered by a pending legal tussle.
Senator Shuaibu Lau, representing Taraba North, in Taraba state, had, similarly, raised the alarm that there was nothing on ground as far as the Mambila hydropower project is concerned. It’s a ghost project like the cosmetically commissioned Baro Port in Niger state and the botched the Nigeria Airways promised by the same administration.
Without mincing words, ike previous government’s, this one has also failed in addressing the challenges of the power sector. But is quite baffling how the Buhari government manages the affairs of the country through deceit.Kera writes from Kaduna via [email protected]