Takeaways from Babatunde Raji Fashola’s Ministerial Screening

On Monday, 29th July 2019, the Senate resumed their Ministerial Screening process continued with Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, the ex-Minister of Power, Works and Housing being the first to be screened for the day. He was grilled for almost two hours before being asked to take a bow. 

In his opening remarks, he said, “In the power sector, for instance, we set out to achieve initially incremental power with a mid-term goal of steady power and ultimately uninterrupted power.” He also mentioned that “While we were managing the grid, we changed Nigeria’s conversation from on-grid power alone to off-grid power. For the first time, Nigerians are talking about and benefiting from off-grid power.”

Some of his arguments are:

THE MINISTRY IS RESTRICTED TO POLICY AND DIRECTIVES

Talking about the energy sector, Fashola explains that the Electric Power Sector Reform Act 2005 restricts the Ministry to policy and directives while the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission handles regulation. Citing an example, he explained that when there are issues with sim cards, call drops etc, the Nigerian Communications Commission is contacted and not Ministry of Communications. 

STATES HAVE NOT MAXIMIZED PARTICIPATION IN POWER

According to the constitution, states are permitted to participate in power. In his opinion, states have not occupied this space significantly. Fashola stated that according to the constitution, while paraphrasing that “State and State Governments can generate, transmit and distribute power in places not covered by the national grid.”  Therefore, States are permitted to participate in power and even have State Power Authorities.

MAMBILLA ELECTRICITY PROJECT

In response to a question by Senator Yusuf of Taraba Central – “You said that the international challenge delaying progress is the slow processing of the Chinese loan. What is the local challenge delaying the Mambilla Electricity project?”, Fashola said that there was never a binding contract with regards to this project. He mentioned that significant progress has been made on this project as Engineering, Procurement and Construction Contract has been issued. The current challenge is the demarcation of precise areas to coordinate which surveyors have been employed for. 

CONCLUSION

It cannot be disputed that Nigeria’s power sector has experienced positive growth, considering investments in renewable energy technologies for off-grid electrification and the improved stability of power supply in some areas of the country.  Below are some important questions about the power sector that were not directly answered by Babatunde Raji Fashola that would have helped Nigerians understand his vision and plans for the sector if he plans to return as the Minister of Power:

1. Are we going to have on-grid solar in the next two years? (Senator Ibrahim Hassan)

2. What will you do to enable Nigerians to enjoy uninterrupted electricity? (Senator Abba Moro)

3. Considering your experience, how much do you require to tackle the issue of power in Nigeria? (Senator Rochas Okorocha)

What will the Power Sector be in the next four years? We wait.



1 Comment

  • There is no doubt that Fashola’s response to the questions were brilliant. However, I was expecting him to add that he would explore the possibility of a reduction of tariff on imported renewable energy components especially Solar energy components. That was a big omission.

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