President Goodluck Jonathan recently ordered the removal from office of three senior officials in the nation's power sector. The affected persons were the managing director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Mr. Akinwumi Bada; the market operator, Uzoma Achinanya; and the executive director, human resources of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN),
Mr. Olushoga Muyiwa. The minister of power, Professor Barth Nnaji, who announced the terminations, rationalised that the affected officials had failed to prevent what he described as "controllable impediments to supply power to Nigerians".
Citizens and residents of this country are probably aware of, or have been regaled with, tales of impediments to the achievement of a regime of stable power supply in Nigeria, for at least most of the years after the country's independence in 1960.
A majority of Nigerians cannot recall when they had uninterrupted power supply that lasted for at least one month. From the now-defunct Electricity Corporation of Nigeria (ECN) to the equally-moribund National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) to the soon-to-go Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), the tales of "impediments" to Nigeria's successful maintenance of a stable regime of electricity supply have ranged from errant snakes in electricity control rooms and gas turbines to water levels that fall to precipitously low levels, not to mention the regular rainstorms that destroy electricity infrastructure across the country.
However, in solving these and other problems, government needs to identify and focus on fashioning out enduring solutions to the problem of Nigeria's power sector. This is imperative in the circumstance rather than engaging in knee-jerk, escapist and merely populist efforts meant to mask its lack of creative imagination in finding solutions to the problem of the sector.
Such creativity should, of course, begin with the immediate and enlightened enthronement of a regime of reforms that introduces private competition in all areas and liberalises the business space within the power sector, as has been done in recent years with Nigeria's aviation, broadcast media and telecommunications sectors.
We frown at the recent act of looking for scapegoats in the power sector, with the minister even premising the recent terminations of the officials on the need to prevent "sabotage", a situation that is likely to lead to unavoidable unrest within the industry.
The reversal of the officials' termination now constitutes one of the demands of unions within the power sector, which have threatened to embark on an industrial action if their demands are not met.
We implore the government to recall the terminated executives to their posts and then sit down with all stakeholders to seek genuine and enduring solutions to the problems of Nigeria's power sector.
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