By CLARA NWACHUKWU
For successful sail through of the current power sector reforms, the Nigerian Institution of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, NIEEE, demands that professionals be involved in every unit of the sector.
The institute argued that the expertise of professional bodies such as NIEEE and the Nigerian Society of Engineers, NSE, must be sought not only for the execution of policies, but also in their formulation for effective implementation.
Expressing concerns over the recurrent issues affecting the power sector, the executives of the institution in a chat with media men in Lagos last week, raised an alarm over the brain drain in the sector, saying, “… nobody has taken the pains to do a census of the brain drain in the sector.
We suggest that this group of professionals should be given adequate support and free hand to turn the sector around.”
In particular the institution is worried that key positions, starting from the ministry and other allied parastatals are not headed by professionals, noting, “It is highly unlikely that such far reaching policy issues will be addressed in the Health and Judiciary sectors without the Nigerian Medical Association and the Nigerian Bar Association playing very active roles respectively.”
Accordingly, the engineers urged the nation to “stop playing politics with the power sector and appoint committed engineering professionals to man the power industry as minister and permanent secretary, as is the case with the ministries of Justice and Health,” adding, “no nation in the world has combined politics with engineering and professionalism, and gets her utility structures working.”
The Vice President, NIEEE, Mr. Adekunle Makinde, noted that the issue with the power sector is beyond just selling the unbundled firms from the Power Holding Company or privatisation, but more of professionalism, adding that if this key issue in not taken into cognisance, the sector is set to go the way of NITEL and Nigeria Airways Ltd.
Makinde said that NIEE has taken its case to the National Assembly way back two years ago, but nothing had been done with regard to its suggestions on how to overcome the problems bedeviling the power sector.
The General Secretary, NIEEE, Mr Ajibade Hafeez, reading out the recommended implementation plans suggested that rather than pursuing a six-month implementation target for the Road Map for Power Sector Reforms, unveiled by the president last year, government should instead, set a well thought-out three year plan to resolve a number of these issues before the sector can be attractive enough for sale.
Hafeez insisted that NIEEE is not against the Road map or privatisation programme, as these are welcome developments geared to move the sector forward.
According to him, “funding for the three-year action plan should not be an issue if we stopped playing politics with the sector. The Nigerian electricity sector has suffered from gross under-investment. Although government has tried to invest in generation through the National Integrated Power Project, NIPP, but other parts of the system have suffered from neglect.”
However, he argued that all generation, transmission and distribution issues must be dispensed with for efficient and effective power service delivery to Nigerians, adding that “ä commitment on the part of government to fully fund the sector over a three year period will inspire confidence and create a strong foundation for future growth and private sector participation.”