There are signs that Nigerians have begun to experience a remarkable improvement in power supply. This, from my experience as an electricity consumer, is true for the past two weeks or thereabouts.
This development is commendable, though the state of electricity supply in the country, and despite the improvement, still falls far below the expectation of the Nigerian citizenry and even that of the Minister of Power, Professor Bart Nnaj.
It may not be out of place to wonder what is behind this situation, and no one will be blamed for thinking that it is as a result of the increase in water level at the country’s dams. Usually we notice a slight improvement in power supply across the country at this period of the year, with the rains becoming relatively steady and the water levels in hydroelectric stations rising to the right levels for optimum power generation. In fact, the 760 megawatt Kainji hydro station which by this time of the year usually generates 400MW is unfortunately producing a mere 40MW right now.
While I do not discount completely the factor of the hydro stations doing better now because we are in the rainy season, I believe there is more to it than has contributed to the improvement in power supply nationwide in the past weeks.
After all, the rains and those same dams had been with us since April and yet the power supply situation deteriorated until weeks ago. For me, that other factor that has led to improved power supply is linked to three related developments.
The first development is the strong policy statement which Prof. Nnaji has made to all chief executives of the 18 Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, successor companies – that henceforth each person will be judged by his/her performance in line with the conditions of the Service Level Agreements, SLAs, signed by chief executives. From my findings, while meeting with the chief executives for the first time on July 25, 2011, after he assumed duty asthe Minister of Power, Prof. Nnaji told them plainly that lobbying would not determine whether they would remain in office or not. He added that only their performance as individuals would determine their fate.
“If any of my aides or family members,” he remarked, “comes to you for financial assistance or contracts with the promise to successfully lobby that you retain your job, report him or her to me immediately,” he said.
This is not exactly a case of reading the riot act to the chief executives, but the impact of the Minister taking such a stand cannot be overemphasized. And the chief executives are likely to have got cracking knowing they have just two options: shape up the power sector or ship out of it.
The second development, in my view, is the Minister of Power’s appointment of the right people into two critical offices: Akin Bada, Executive Director in the PHCN (System Operations), appointed as the CEO of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN and Uzoma Achinanya, also an Executive Director in the PHCN, whom the Minister appointed as Executive Director, Market Operations, a position Achinaya created and occupied creditably from 2004 to 2010. Bada is reputed to be a perfectionist and a team player and one of the best transmission engineers in the PHCN right now.
He is now charged with the rehabilitation of the transmission system which is in a very poor state. He is also responsible for the installation of Super Grid, a cutting edge technology which President Jonathan has approved for the country.
Achinanya, on the other hand, is to oversee the business of the sale of electricity to consumers nationwide, and he knows that he stands no chance of succeeding without the availability of the commodity he is to sell: electricity. Trained as an engineer at the University of Ife in Nigeria, Achinaya has post- graduate degress in Economics and Business Administration from Cambridge and Israeli universities.
These two men are not just accomplished and dedicated professionals; their appointments are equivalent of having slotted round pegs into round holes, and at the right time.
Mr Ganiyu Makanjuola, an engineer, is the coordinator of the Association of National Electricity Consumers, Lagos.