Nigeria: Will Prof. Chinedu Nebo Revive Nigeria's Power Sector?
Even if Nigerians can get on their knees and pray, nothing will change until the human factor that creates impediments to development amongst Africans is effectively addressed. Although prayer has its place, economic development does not call for prayers as a requirement.
When God said, "Let There be Light", He probably did not have Nigeria in mind. If not, how come more than 118 years after the debut of electricity in Nigeria with the arrival of Ijaro Power Station in 1894, and Nigeria getting electricity 15 years after it was discovered, the world's largest Black nation is mostly a dark country? What engineering studies haven’t Nigerians taken? Nigeria's power output today is less than what New York city consumes on a daily comparative basis.
Praying for Mr. Nebo's success is good but it's a far cry from what is needed. Just like blacks in US put in more prayer-hours and parade more PhDs than any other ethnic group, the situation in black neighborhoods mirrors that of third world countries. It is not about who is praying.
Come to think of it, God was alive and aware as Africans were colonized and her people enslaved, and that went on for centuries. Africans prayed as they were bundled and shipped across the Atlantic. As Nigerians are praying, the leadership is stealing the treasury dry, making Nigeria Project a joke!
Having mostly college teachers who have never managed or negotiated contracts as political appointees over critical assets of a nation in search of effective policies and program formulations to advance the cause of power availability using courses known and proven to work, is like expecting the sun to rise from the west.
Nigeria’s Power ministry has been manned by many academia and legal minds: Rilwanu Lukman, whose claim to fame is his engineering degrees from Imperial College; Barth Nnaji, robotics degrees from Pittsburgh; Bola Ige, rewarded appointment by OBJ and now the untested and hardly business-minded Mr. Chinedu Nebo.
There is no practical appreciation of pragmatic experience in managing and handling issues such as power. I do not see Mr. Nebo overseas or at investors forum making a winning case/argument on why Nigeria should have power. Nebo comes from an institution with less than $15m in annual budget. He is a cold feet in corporate boardrooms, and may not articulate financial, legal and maximally productive arguments/scenarios to entice and appease, while appealing to investors to take Nigeria power sector seriously. Nebo's appointment reminds me of Magnus Kpako, PhD, one time Economic Adviser to OBJ, who came to Dallas and accompanied me to speak to a refinery investor/builder, but could not deliver views worthy of his status. He was flat and bland. OBJ later demoted him to Coordinator of Poverty Alleviation. And Mr. Kpako stayed not because of service but the prestige and benefits of easy money from government.
Does Nigeria need a Power ministry? It needs regional power commissions/authorities enabled and properly authorized with oversight and regulatory mandates to ensure policies and programs of delivering power are enhanced.
Nigeria has no utility company listed on the Nigeria Stock Exchange, yet, Guinness enjoys the highest trading stock price on the index. What does that tell anyone? A nation of drunkards who would rather invest in entertaining commodities with health consequences than do the heavy lifting and invest in infrastructure subsidized if need be, by the federal government might and good faith.
In case anyone is impressed by Professors joining the ranks of federal cabinet members, Nigerians are reminded of Wahab Dosumu during Shagari from UnIfe, Tam David West - UI - IBB, Wole Soyinka - Federal Marshall Federal Road Safety Corp - IBB, who disappointed. There are more than these.
As long as Nigeria’s leadership seeks PhDs over those who have mastered the way of the corporate world, financing tools and negotiating savvy, parading teachers from universities and colleges to man certain institutions is dead on arrival.
Mr. Nebo will not deliver on Nigeria’s power challenges because the institution he is appointed to man is fraught with conditions and situations that need effective leadership to cleanse before any sense can be made. Nigeria does not need a Power ministry - prove me wrong.
Only in Nigeria will a teacher be plugged in to engage in the critical aspect of a nation's asset. This is no classroom drama or theatrics. Teachers and professors are not DOERS: Nigeria needs DOERS.
Power generation, transmission and distribution are critical. The other important component that has eluded Nigeria is how to finance the critical sector. Nigeria budget based financing for such a sector will never solve or dent the need. Therefore, the magic of financing - creative one for that matter, fashioned along government backing, will move things forward.
What goes on is a show as the DARKNESS continues while Nigerians parade degrees and titles - 'Water-Water Every Where,' yet none fit to drink. Got it?
Mr. Nebo is a case of a new professor replacing another - Barth Nnaji, two of the same. There you have it. The jury is out. But do not expect different verdict.
By Ejike Okpa II
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