Okechukwu Nnodim, Abuja
The Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, on Tuesday queried the role of the Power minister with respect to delivering electricity to households and businesses across the country.
Sanusi stated that while he was governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, he often asked people to tell him what the responsibility of the Power minister was.
This, he said, was due to the fact that virtually all arms of the electricity value chain had been taken away from the control of the minister.
The Emir stated these in a keynote address during a stakeholders’ workshop on Road Transport Management and Mass Transit Operations in Nigeria organised by the Federal Ministry of Transportation in Abuja.
He said, “Very often in this country, we do not give as much focus as we should to the organic link between the objectives, our strategies, processes, procedures and our results. And one example I’ve always given is the power sector in Nigeria. I used to ask this question that, ‘please what really is the Power minister responsible for?’ And it sounds like a silly question.
“But the truth is, I don’t know about now, but as of the time I was in government, could anyone legitimately hold the Power minister responsible for delivering power? The PHCN (Power Holding Company of Nigeria) was privatised by the Bureau of Public Enterprises; the Ministry of Petroleum Resources is responsible for gas; regulation and pricing is done by the NERC (Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission), which is an independent body.”
Sanusi added, “By the time you took out everything you need in power, the minister has nothing. He controls nothing. The Power minister cannot boast that I will deliver 1,000 megawatts because he can actually build a gas powered turbine and not have the gas. This is because the gas is under the control of a different ministry.
“Also, for hydro, the dams belong to the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and the sites around the dams belong to the state governments. The water turbines belong to the Ministry of Power, but if you want to use hydro, the Ministry of Power does not have the dams. The point I’m making is that one of the reasons why we’ve not made much improvement on power is due to a lack of coordinating mechanisms.”
The emir also stated that a similar situation could be seen in the transport sector, but urged stakeholders in the industry to form a forum from where activities in the sector would be coordinated in order to achieve meaningful results.
He said, “Now, I kind of think that we can have a similar problem with transport. We need to have some framework for coordination and harmonisation for a clear division of roles and responsibilities, and also for ensuring that everything is mainstreamed into one strategic objective. So, whoever is responsible for any part of the transportation chain should have a forum where you come and coordinate activities.”
Sanusi decried poor funding for road infrastructure in Nigeria, adding that reports had it that the country would need about N500bn annually to be able to develop its road sector considerably.