CENTRAL Bank of Nigeria Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is feeling good enough about how he is managing the banks that his latest foray is electricity tariff in Nigeria.
He claims a 200 per cent increase in the current tariff of N7 per unit would result in more investment in electricity and ultimately see to improved services. Ghana where, according to him, a unit of electricity sells for N22, is a reason for Nigeria to increase tariff.
Simplistic propositions from an expert of Mallam Sanusiâ€™s ranking should disturb discerning minds. In the past one year, Mallam Sanusi has run the banks with the same faulty assumptions. His recent harvest of awards can mask the fact that the banks are in a worse state than when he commenced his reforms a year ago.
Electricity supply in Ghana did not improve because of a higher tariff. It was a deliberate government decision to salvage a situation it found reprehensible.
For years, electricity in Ghana was bad, probably worse than in Nigeria. The Volta Dam once suffered from low water supply. Ghana resorted to emergency measures, including installing giant generators that produced electricity through other sources.
The difference in attitude produced the result Sanusi quoted. The Ghanaian government knew the importance of electricity, it knew that it cannot improve its industrial base without better electricity supply, it knew the centrality of electricity to development.
Ghana deployed resources to electricity as policy not preachment, speeches and speculations.
Nigeriaâ€™s electricity is not suffering from poor investment â€” it suffers from corruption, the type that makes it impossible for billions of dollars that Olusegun Obasanjoâ€™s government invested in it to make any impact.
A National Assembly probe of the National Integrated Power Project and the billions of dollars it cost, sank in the morasses of allegations of corruption against legislators. Can that happen in Ghana? Would its government throw billions of dollars at projects without results?
Would government in Ghana withhold entitlements of its electricity workers for seven years? Does Mallam Sanusi remember how quickly Ghana tackled its electricity challenge? Did investors wait for high tariff in Ghana?
Mallam Sanusi knows government is not ready to lose its hold on electricity. It is the issue. Did telecommunication require 200 per cent increase in tariff to attract investors? Which sector, outside oil, has lured more foreign investment than telecommunication? Was telecommunication not in a worse state than electricity by 2001? Who does not feel the impact of the difference?
With the CBN Governor, on whose advice government depends, believing tariff increase is the solution, the kind of progress Nigeria makes is not surprising.
Our governments run the country on generators that are mostly deployed to their personal convenience. When Mallam Sanusi talks about increased tariff, he ignores infrastructure challenges that NIPP contractors said inhibited movement of heavy equipment imported for NIPP.
Are we to wait for increased tariff to solve these too? Mallam Sanusi should spare Nigerians further depletion of their expectations from government.
Excuses are the bane of our governments. When experts make excuses they diminish their calling and leave those who depend on them more despondent.
We need electricity not excuses. Nigeria will never have improved electricity for as long as government and its officials think excuses are substitutes for electricity.