During the week, the Abubakar Kyari Senate committee investigating the power sector received for the first time in the last 16 years the estimated amount of money that has been sunk in the name of power and electricity in Nigeria over the period of civil rule beginning in 1999.
The revelation as startling as it was is supposed to douse the tension and gross national apprehension, which many of us had held for a while. Until the declaration by Dr. Igali, the permanent secretary in the power ministry, we had at different times speculated the amount to reach between $25 and $30 billion. Fortunately or rather unfortunately, it was officially reported at about $20 billion.
The generation capacity as at May 29, 1999 was certainly not below 2,000 megawatts. Sixteen years later, after an ‘investment’ of over $20 billion, the generation capacity remained below 2,000 megawatts as at May 29, 2015 when the PDP government handed over to a new government.
This arithmetic as elementary as it is explains the statecraft of the PDP government, especially the last six years when Goodluck Jonathan held forte as the president of the country. Has anybody either in the PDP or sympathetic to it, any issue to quarrel with if the current government sets out to investigate the colossal fraud that the nation was subjected to, especially in the last six years?
This is only in the power sector. I don’t know what will happen when the current administration chooses to go into railway; another conduit pipe that the immediate past administration found ready and exploited maximally in soaking the Nigerian nation of the much-required funds for national development. Education, health, works and other national bureaucratic outlets that would have been used to facilitate adequacy of national infrastructure were reduced to agencies for the accumulation of personal wealth. These include aviation and petroleum just to mention but a few.
The power sector has been the worst hit given the primacy of power as a critical necessity for societal motion. As money was pumped in so was it siphoned by those who in the ordinary were the custodians of the national trust and confidence. Imagine that over a period of 16 years, $20 billion could not generate 1,000 megawatts of electricity. I believe that this expenditure when matched with the value added if any would go into the Guinness Book of World Records as another wonder of the world. Yet, some Nigerians are going to sleep with their two eyes closed when millions of us are in discomfort of darkness and inability to move our lives no matter the level and type of our occupations.
I am of the view that the Senator Kyari committee must liaise with parliamentarians like Chudi Elumelu who headed a similar committee in the House of Representatives and was consumed by the share forces of corruption that fought back, discredited him, the committee and the very good work that they did in that House Power Probe Panel.
The times are different. We now have a government in place that is ready to deal with these issues and decisively too. What the parliament in Abuja must do is to ensure that the work of this committee is aligned with those already in place and necessary legislative endorsement is given so that the executive arm of government would move into action and either recover the massive funds supposedly looted or get those people affected move back to work and provide the infrastructure they were initially contracted to provide.
In the last few months, Nigerians have seen tremendous changes in power supply. Many reasons are advanced for that but the most convincing is the one from PMB who was reported to have asserted that all he did was to get across to the stakeholders in the sector and request them to either live up to expectation or face the wrath of the state.
This is a confirmation of the position in currency in Nigeria today. Millions of citizens are saying, ‘so, all this while, the problem was with leadership.’ I concur and this justifies why some of us have argued for long that it does not matter from where, what the nation desires is leadership. He could be from the north or from the south, majority of minority, Muslim or Christian. What is important is the quality of the person and not any other pecuniary.
I hope these changes and true transformation that seem to be all over the place would not only be consolidated but built upon so that sooner than later the nation would sing the praises of that wise decision in March and April which brought about this government in place. No doubt Nigeria is getting better and this must not be a means through which the government would relax in its drive to change virtually all sectors and ways of doing things in the country.
I am sure that by the time the Senate committee would be mid-way into its assignment, the quantum revelations that would be made will be capable of shutting-up the mouth of those in the PDP who have since become jittery and are mesmerising and saying things anyhow. No wonder the PDP would say that Nigeria is slipping into dictatorship. Yes! Dictatorship by putting things in order, restoring law and order as a cardinal principle of Western liberal democracy and edging out impunity, a rule rather than exception during the days of the PDP and its government.
While the Senate is doing power, I think the House should start on transportation with specific reference to railway and roads. This has to be done while at the same time government programmes are on-going in order to attend to the basic issues of lack and scarcity, which have hit the nation for a long time. We expect to hear about the $20 billion oil money not remitted to the federation account and other related economic crimes in that sector.
This has the capacity of going a long way in curbing theft, setting standards, deterrence and restoration of rule of law, order and procedure in how things are done in Nigeria.