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Again, Buhari’s nominee, Akinwande, shuns Senate’s screening for NERC job

*As another nominee calls for thorough monitoring of DISCOs

By Henry Umoru

ABUJA—AGAIN, President Muhammadu Buhari’s nominee for the position of chairman of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Professor Akintunde Akinwande, yesterday failed to present himself for Senate screening.

For the second time in one month, the nominee shunned the Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe-led committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy.

The committee had, last month, invited Akinwande and other nominees for screening, but the screening was put on hold due to failure of Akinwande to appear, just as he failed to fill all the columns where he ought to have provided his needed information for the committee.

But in a swift reaction, the Presidency denied the reports, saying Akinwande was simply trying to formalise his resignation from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he works.

But at a second screening session convened yesterday by Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe and other members of the committee, Akinwande was not just absent, but informally told the committee that he was not available for the job.

Akintunde Akinwande
Akintunde Akinwande

A source in the committee disclosed that Akinwande sent a text message to a member of the committee that he was not interested in the job.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, who tried to persuade the committee not to interprete Akinwande’s absence to mean that he had declined the President’s nomination, said: “I would want to plead with the committee that the nominee was simply absent. I will communicate with the President and get more information about him and get back.”

This remark was quickly rebuffed by members of the committee, who openly declared that they had tried enough and would not be ready to reconvene a third screening session for Akinwande.

At this point, a member of the committee, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi (APC, Kaduna North) who threw a question at Ita Enang, querried: “But if somebody says I will not be able to make it, what does he imply?”

Apparently confused about the development, Enang could not respond to Hunkuyi’s question.

Meanwhile, the committee has disclosed that it would prepare its final report and submit to the Senate which will take final decision on Akinwande’s nomination.

According to a source, Akinwande turned down the nomination “because he was not consulted before the nomination was made and was not ready to leave his present businesses to take up the job.”


Nominee calls for thorough monitoring of DISCOs

Meanwhile, Sanusi Garba, the Vice Chairmanship nominee from Katsina State during the screening, yesterday, lampooned the power sector, saying to say it was in bad shape was simply an understatement, even as he said that deficit revenue in the sector was approaching one trillion Naira.

According to him, the sector is that bad because it lacks a good regulator, promising that the new board, when put in place, would right the wrongs, adding that Electricity Distribution Companies, DISCOs, went into agreement to run the sector, but noted that because of lack of proper supervision, they had failed to function properly.

He said  it had become imperative for the sector to be overhauled, if Nigeria must attract foreign investors.

Others who appeared for the screening were Nathan Rogers Shatti; Professor Frank Okafor; Musiliu Olalekan Oseni and Dafe Akpeneye, among others.


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