Fashola ‘s War with Discos

Babatunde-Fashola-0405

There  is  no  doubt  that Nigeria’s   Power , Works  and Housing Minister  Mr Babatunde Fashola is annoyed  with Nigeria’s  power  distribution  companies over what  he called  their  inability  to  deliver electricity   to  Nigerians especially  at  this point in time . Why  the  taciturn  but   well  admired   Nigerian   leader  and  Senior Advocate  of  Nigeria    should blow his  top ,  and vent his spleen  on the discos is however  what needs to  be found out and urgently  too .  That  the Minister  blamed the discos  for ageing equipment  they  bought from government at     privatization in 2013  is  even  more alarming   and     disturbing    as the principle  of   caveat emptor   or    buyer  beware  does not sound fine from the mouth of the seller,  which is the government  that Fashola  represents. This anger then smirks    of brazen  misuse  of power  by a Minister  who is very  much aware  of the problems of the power  industry  enough to know that the failure  of electricity supply in Nigeria does  not lie at the doors  of the discos alone.

Actually ,  telling the discos  to perform  or fold  up  is not only uncharitable  of the Minister  but it is a directive  that shows  the underlying  frustration  of the Power Minister in living up to his promise in his Road  Map To Power Supply    last  year on achieving incremental  supply  before  steady  and sustainable  power  supply.  The Minster  needs  to be reminded  urgently  that the factors  that made  his wise differentiation of the problems on the ground still  exist, even more formidably now and  they have  a lot  to  do with  many important stake holders in the industry  and not discos alone. Which  then  means that in highlighting  the discos  alone  for  non performance on electricity  delivery, the Minister  was  indulging in sheer scapegoating.  That  too  is not fair to  disco   owners    who  are     patriotic Nigerians who  have invested in the distribution sector of the power  industry   with their  hard  earned  money  and  capital  but  have nothing  to show  because  they have  been  sold short on their investment  by a government that knew  the state  of the infrastructure  they    were buying then,  but  encouraged  them  by promising to create  the  environment for  their  investments to yield dividend  to the mutual benefit  of the buyer  and seller.  That  the  Minister is now invoking  the  market dictum  of buyer  beware  is  certainly   not  consistent  with the ethics of  any  sale,  not to talk of a very  expensive one  as  privatization of electricity which brought  the discos  to  the delivery sector of our  power industry  in  2013.

Instead  of  writing the discos  off when  he now  understands  the problems  of the industry, he should  with   the benefit  of  hindsight  retrace  his steps  and recover the momentum  which    he  had  last year but which  appears  to be  lost  with his present anger  with  the discos. The  Minister last  year  urged  Nigerians to be ready  to accept increased   electricity  tariffs  now and made  an analogy  with  the gsm  industry  and formerly  very high  prices of sim  cards  and mobile  phones  which came  down drastically  even  as Nigerians got used to them  and accepted  them  as part of their way  of life and culture. That was  a Minister showing  empathy with the problems of the power  industry  and doing the correct  and expected thing to sell  the  concept  of sustainable, available  and affordable  electricity  to Nigerians . It  was  a very  good  path that the Minister took  at the time  and it is one he should  continue on and not abandon  or  deprecate   as  new  challenges confront  both  government and discos  from the   nagging problems  of bringing power  to  Nigerians  by all  means, and as soon  as possible.   The  Minister  is well  advised  to accommodate  the discos  and help  them  face the challenges  of privatization and the  expected  dividends  of efficiency and service  delivery   inherent   in  such  process and that means being pragmatic in helping the discos live up to their  mandate and  billings. Anger is not  a policy  and  is certainly out of the question  given the problems  confronting the discos which  the Minister is very much aware  of and to  which  as a leader of the   power  industry he must  find  answers. That  really is the crux  of the matter and  not  scapegoating  of discos .

 

Source: DailyTrust

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