By Adekunle Adekoya
At the moment, nothing seems to be working in the country. Well over a month ago, what seemed to be an isolated incident has ballooned into a major crisis that is threatening the nation’s economic jugular.
Mid-February, a power outage occurred when two units at the Egbin Power plant suffered damage as a result of a fire, leading to loss of about 603 megawatts, MW, of electricity.
As the GenCo struggled to revive the plant, queues started growing at petrol stations across the country.
An aghast nation was told that bad petrol got into the country while our quality control and assurance system was holidaying.
As usual, we still do not know how what happened, despite presidential threats and inquests, apart from players in the sector pointing accusing fingers at each other.
Meanwhile, woes in the electricity sector worsened as the national grid suffered two system collapses one after the other.
Last Sunday, the generating companies hit Nigerians in the belly by saying that low electricity generation to the national grid is as a result of N1.644 trillion owed them by the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc.
The power generating companies have an association called Association of Power Generation Companies (APGC). Executive Secretary of the association, Dr. Joy Ogaji said the N1.64 trillion debt arose from unutilised capacity and dated back to 2015, adding that GenCos are hamstrung by the debt, which, if paid, could immediately enable them deliver 9,000 MW to the national grid.
Ogaji added that the “illiquidity caused by the huge sums owed GenCos by NBET, has more than ever before continued to frustrate the GenCos and kept them incapable of meeting their obligations which are extremely necessary to keep their power plants running and make capacities available, while observing required Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) standards.
“Such obligations include our operations and maintenance (O&M) as and when due, procurement of critical capital, spare parts and accessories, payment, and servicing of existing loans from lenders and financiers, employee obligations, etc.”
In reaction, the NBET dismissed APGC’s claims, saying that claims of capacity to generate 9,000MW were not accurate as inspections by NBET have shown that the capacity does not exist. In between the GenCos and NBET, the truth is not known, but what is clear is that life is getting harder for Nigerians. What is also clear is that this is another case of agreements being defaulted after freely signing it.
Just like ASUU and the Federal Government signed an agreement in 2009 on how to proactively fund the university sector of our educational system.
On the heels of the GenCos debt claim against the government, ASUU last Monday ended its 30-day warning strike, and told a shell-shocked and choked nation that it has extended its strike by another two months.
Students and their parents who had thought that the 30-day period was long enough for ASUU and government to reach a ceasefire got thoroughly disappointed.
As we speak, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu is in London to see our president who is there on medical tourism.
Similarly, Labour Minister, Dr. Chris Ngige is in Geneva, Switzerland, attending the 344th session of the Governing Board of the International Labour Organization, ILO.
So the two top officials of government who can drive a resolution of the ASUU strike crisis are out of the country, including the President.My point in all of this is about agreements freely entered into.
There are many lawyers in government, and those who are not lawyers are sufficiently educated to know about the implications of violating agreements signed by two or more parties.
The underlying principle, or concept, if you like, is pacta sunt servanda, a Latin expression that means “pacts and agreements freely entered into are binding.”
International relations experts and historians tell us that the first recorded treaty in history, which generated the Latin saying was the treaty signed by Ramses II, Pharaoh of Egypt, and Hatushilem, King of the Hittites in 1296 BC. But this is 2022.
Why does the Federal Government opt not to honour agreements signed by its officials? ASUU and government signed an MoU in 2009, and 13 years later in 2022, its non-implementation has become a national crisis that threatens to suffocate the university system.
Why? NBET, another government agency, signed power purchase agreements, PPA, with generating companies, and suddenly there is a dispute that has resulted in non-payment of accrued credits, which in turn is threatening the entire national economy. Why? If you look in other sectors, other crises waiting to erupt are abound.
Like in the aviation sector, for instance.
In our courts, there are hundreds of cases on their cause lists about agreements violated by parties that freely agreed to sign.
It’s immoral. We must clean up acts that create needless crises for us as a country.