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BEYOND THE SACK OF PHCN OFFICIALS

By NBF News
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The recent sack of three top officials of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) over power outages across the country mirrors the desperation, yet fruitless efforts, of the Federal Government to fix the power sector.

The victims of government's sledgehammer were erstwhile Managing Director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, Mr. Akinwunmi Bada and the former Marketing Operator, Mr. Uzoma Achinanya. The former Executive Director (Human Resources) PHCN, Mr. Muyiwa Olushoga, was sent on compulsory retirement.

Government immediately announced replacements for the position of the MD/CEO of the Transmission subsidiary as well as that of the Marketing Operator. However, the post of the Human Resources is expected to be filled in due course in line with Civil Service rules and regulations. President Goodluck Jonathan is reported to have endorsed the sack of the officials which was announced by the office of the Minister of Power.

The minister explained that the decision to sack the officials was primarily informed by the sharp decline in the projected electricity generation, from 4420 mw to its present 3200mw. This represents a fall of over 1200mw in less than a month. The minister explained that government is worried by this steady decline. The result has been a steady 'blackout' in most parts of the country.

All things considered, government believes that appointing new hands will bring new impetus to the beleaguered power sector, and maybe, the much expected light at the end of the tunnel. There is no doubt that the power sector has become a conundrum that has proved difficult for successive governments to solve. Harvest of promises on how to fix the sector has been repeatedly made. Huge capital outlay continues to be made with little results to show for it. It appears the more the investment, the worse the power supply situation becomes.

It is indeed baffling and disheartening that the power sector in Nigeria has turned into a bottomless pit of financial waste. Clearly, the problem is more systemic than anything else. Until this is decisively dealt with, the power sector will remain the way it is. Sacking of these officials may be a temporary relief, but that is just a scratch at the root of the multi-faceted problems facing the power sector. It is a combination of deep-seated corruption, sabotage and incompetence. The Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji, has identified sabotage as one of the key problems why government is yet to achieve its target in the power sector.

For many years, we have heard so much talk and less action on how to fix the power sector. Real action, not rhetoric, is what is needed. Drawing lines in the sand and trading blames as government has been doing all these years is no longer acceptable. This is time for government and the Ministry of Power to ask genuine questions on why all the efforts and financial investments in the sector have failed to yield dividend. Yet the power sector holds the key to economic growth and quality of life of the people.

The poor power supply situation in the country has forced many industries to shut down and some have even relocated to neigbouring countries. There must be a clear and comprehensive strategy in the government power reforms agenda that can translate into visible and measurable results. We believe that government has not shown enough political will and clarity of purpose to break the systemic barriers that continue to hold down all efforts to revive the power sector and guarantee constant power supply in the country.