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Hurricane Nebo: Power sector’s new spirit

THERE is a particular local saying that when a child is crying and pointing in a particular direction, it is either the mother or father is there.

When the Minister of Power, Professor Chinedu Ositadimma Nebo, stood before the Senate earlier this year to declare that he was going to exorcise the demons in the power sector, it immediately made headlines in the media.

Of course, it had to, because this line of thought was completely new. Nobody before him had openly pursued it. If they contemplated it, they never brought it to the public space. That Nebo has blazed this trail is not surprising.

He possesses what many of his ilks lack, or overlook. It is strange that many people who have gone through the academic mills and acquired the first-grade credentials he has, soon abandon the most essential and crucial part – God. Many of them even begin to delude themselves and commit the most atrocious infamy and sacrilege of declaring with their mouth that there is no God, while others, at best, pay half-hearted heed to His existence and dictates.

That, of course, is one of the major fundamentals the former Vice Chancellor of two federal universities, is bringing to the table, which, rather than serving as a footnote, is likely to define his era in his present job and from there create the template for Nigeria to leapfrog into the future of greatness that has become so elusive in the past, but which everybody, including its enemies, believe is waiting right at the next bend.

It was the same talisman that Nebo used to end the many years of rot at the University of Nigeria Nsukka, UNN, which, before his arrival, was already gaining notoriety for its version of being a theatre of war and bloodshed that many of the nation’s tertiary institutions have become in recent years, due to students’ cultism. Who didn’t hear that the menace grew so high that Nebo’s predecessor, Prof. Ginigeme Mbanefo, was actually kidnapped and for some days, became game for the unconscionable elements? Who didn’t hear of the killing of 15 students in the university in 2003 or how a former dean was butchered thereafter?

What magic did Nebo apply to ensure that his five-year tenure, from June 2004 to June 2009, led to a totally different story in the university, not only in infrastructural development but total eradication of cultism?

Of course, his story at the Federal University, Oye Ekiti, evokes a similar sentiment. There, he practically squeezed water out of stone in his attempt to build a first class institution that would train the body and mind of Nigerians constantly in search of quality education, such as the likes of the Minister had. Needless to say that he was still at this project when his new appointment came.

This streak of successes, where many have failed, can only mean one thing – that Nebo does not only possess the credentials to achieve his goals, but applies them with a rare single-mindedness.

That is why, he must therefore, be taken seriously when he said that he is going to succeed in the power sector and deliver on President Goodluck Jonathan’s promise of making Nigerians enjoy constant electricity during his tenure. That is why those he has been pointing at since his coming on board as the spoilers, must not only think seriously about their options, but become wiser and more prudent with their ideas of doing things the old way.

In fact, he has recently restated what he said at the Senate screening again and again that it has become a kind of peculiar mantra. Reading the riot act for the umpteenth time,  in a television programme, the Minister accentuated the fresh impetus thus: “We are setting up a very robust monitoring device. One thing I can assure you is that all leakages will be plugged. It’s not going to be business as usual. The legacy that we have now will not tolerate the so-called Nigerian factor and leakages. It is time for everybody to know that it is no longer business as usual. If anyone wants to continue in the old games, then we will hold them accountable. I can assure you that we have put in place a solid mechanism to ensure that when government puts in funds somewhere, government gets a concomitant, good, quality work that it has paid for.”

Nebo lamented how a cabal had grown out of some people seized by evil forces. These people, who he described as powerful, would not want the Nigerian power sector to heal because of their proclivity to benefit from the suffering of the people by absconding with funds they obtained for specific power projects.

“I mean, it is all too obvious that lots of funds have gone into the sector but in some areas, you don’t see a concomitant development in the sector; so there are problems within and without. There is the issue of Nigerian factor, cartels that feel that once there is power, they lose their own businesses,” he added.

Reiterating his resolve to solve the problem, Nebo, who said he was equally troubled, vowed to do everything required to ensure that the present crisis is resolved in favour of Nigerians.

And this resolution, according to him would mean a robust economy, where the giant will wake up again; where virtually the about 70 per cent or more of all the Small and Medium Enterprises, SMEs, that have died in Nigeria would wake up again; where barbing, hairdressing, vulcanising, welding businesses and the likes, would be alive and well; where Nigerians would go back to work earn their living honestly and as a result, reduce all the vices currently plaguing the nation as a due to idleness and absence of alternatives; where the big businesses like the telecommunication companies would cut down operation costs by half, because they would no longer rely on diesel, thus producing competitive goods and services.

It is a common saying in Nigeria that only a tree will hear that it would be cut down and still stand in one place. A human being would shift grounds. Is it not time for this cabal to rethink its position? Indeed, many people have actually argued that cabals are not necessarily bad by their name, but in what they do. They insist that most developed economies have their own versions of cabals, which corner all the big contracts and businesses, make huge profits, but still deliver.

Perhaps, Nebo may not be as virulent in his resolve to end their reign if the Nigerian version would try this option. But to obdurately remain a clog in the wheel of progress, could become a recipe for their doom.

Most of the big empires in America today, which have established foundations to help humanity, according to some history, were actually bandits, involved in all manner of crimes. They had to give up, do a rethink and turn a new leaf when the time was up for them.

A similar wind is blowing in Nigeria today. The momentum is so fierce it will certainly destroy all obstacles on the way.

It is hurricane Nebo.

Mr.   SUNNY IGBOANUGO, a journalist,wrote from Lagos.


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