Prof. Tam David-West is a former Minister of Power and Steel, in this interview, he argues that Acting President Goodluck Jonathan cannot make meaningful progress in the power sector within a short periodHe also dismissed claims of an existing cabal holding the sector down, adding incompetence and corruption is responsible for the total blackout in Nigeria. He spoke toÂ Â Charles Kumolu.
ACTING PresidentÂ Goodluck Jonathan now heads the Minister of Power.Â His recent utterancesÂ point to his readiness to surmount Nigeria’sÂ energy challenges. As a former minister in thatÂ that ministry, do you think he can make appreciable progressÂ within the limited time frame?
What do you want me to say that I have not said before. I am insisting that Jonathan can not make any meaningful impact on the power situation in the country. I was the Minister of Power and Steel before and I know the enormity of the situation in that sector.
So, I would say it anywhere that he can’t perform any magic within this period. This brings me to what Bola Ige told me when he was the Minister of Power.
He told me that within six months, he would fix the sector. And I told him â€œUncle Bola, you cant be able to do that. It is impossible. I told him that he can’t even do it within two years. I was talking to him with my experience and knowledgeÂ as a former minister of that sector. If he says he would take up issues like electoral reforms, I believe he can do that. But for power, he cannot make any appreciable progress.
Why do you say so when he appears determined and focused, andÂ he is now theÂ Â head of the ministry unlikeÂ the past when ministers made little or no effort at addressing the problem?
With my experience and the level of decay in that sector, Jonathan is going no where on it. But if he tries to make people believeÂ he can do it, he is going to soil whatever good policy he made at the end of the day.
It will spoil whatever positive achievement he might be able to get within his few months tenure. I am not saying that he should shy away from it. But there are a lot of things to be progressively achieved within this short period.
Power requires time and sincere commitment. So, the time is too short for him to perform wonders. Even with good intentions and total commitment, he lacks that luxury of time. He can’t do it within eleven moths or one year.
To solve the problem of power, Jonathan needs at least two years.
When issues in the power sector is brought up, youÂ cannot be ignored. This is why a lot of people believe your advice would count at this time. If you were to advice him on steps to take, what would you tell him?
If I will advice him, I will expect him to give that sector to a minister, who is capable and who will not tow the past lines. But he should not expect miracles, Jonathan cannot perform miracle.
I have said this in so many interviews that he should choose few things, focus on them, accomplish them and leave a mark. But if power is part of the few things he has chosen, I am afraid, it would be a disaster. We have the issue of electoral reforms that needs to be implemented, he should work on that.
There are other things. If he wants to do so many things, he would not achieve anything and he would leave a bad history which would hunt him. Anyway, If I am advising him, I would say that he is taking a risk and he cannot make impact. I have been minister of Power and Steel before and I know what I am talking about
What about the issue of a certain cabal that does not want the power sector fixed. How true is it and did you experience anything like that during your tenure?
That is nonsense. Each time we fail we look for scape goats.That is rubbish. If there is a cabal and the Nigerian media and government cannot expose or break it, that means that it is a lie. There is nothing of such, that is just an excuse for failure. We have gone a long way.
From NEPA to where we are today, says much about our efforts.Â No cabal is frustrusting anything. We are experiencing the effect of our incompetence and corruption.
If there is a cabal in the oil industryÂ and every where let it be broken, there is no cabal that is omnipotent, there is no cabal that cannot have counter cabal. If there is a cabal there should be another cabal to break the existing one.
Is cabal a Nigerian word, that people are always saying cabal in anything? They lie a lot, no cabal is frustrating the energy sector. It was a cabal that was frustrating the oil industry during Buhari and he broke the cabal. Why are the refineries not working?
They sabotaged the refineries after Buhari so that they can import fuel. And the people who did this were and are in government. There is no cabal that cannot be broken. Any government that cannot brake a cabal is a failed government and should resign.
Are you suggesting he should have a minister instead who will set a power agenda for the incoming government?
Jonathan cannot do it. Setting agenda is also another rubbish, because what makes you think that the next government will follow your agenda. He can get a blue print, but he can not finish anything. If his idea is good, the next government will carry on.
Unfortunately we live in a country where policies are usually terminated when any government comes in.
But to say he can fix power, is a lie. Obasanjo wasted billions in the power sector and he ended us giving us total darkness.