Lagos — In Nigeria, it is often difficult to understand how government works and reasons. What ordinarily should be treated with dispatch is given the most lackadaisical treatment.
This wasteful approach to governance was again exposed when recent media reports indicated that some N4 billion worth of energy equipment was just being deployed to user companies, ten years after they were procured. Some of the equipment included transformers, circuit breakers and isolators.
For ten years, after procurement, the items were abandoned in the warehouse of the Energy Ministry without distributing them to the user agencies. This is most worrisome to say the least. How can it be explained that in the face of the daily agony Nigerians are going through on the energy sector, equipment meant to improve the efficiency of the sector were left to rot for a decade? Was it that the Ministry did not have need for the equipment at the time they were bought as to warrant abandoning them since then? But even if that was the case, won't the nation-wide complaint of worsening power situation , often blamed on lack of equipment to service the power stations have caused the ministry to urgently release the materials? Whose interest were the abandoned equipment serving in the store?
How could six hundred transformers, for instance, have been bought and abandoned for ten years when most of the complaints of electricity distributors is that there are not enough transformers to facilitate efficient power distribution? Listeners to the FRCN radio programme I Beg Una are often treated to the routine complaint of how consumers are tasked by the PHCN staff to contribute monies with which to buy new transformers, so they can enjoy improved power supply. How can this be the case when transformers are left to rot in the ministry's store houses? It is no surprise that ten years after, some of the equipment are no longer functional necessitating their repairs before they can be distributed.
No doubt, the life span of the equipment would have been shortened while they lay fallow in the store house. They must have also lost their warranty.
This unfortunate development is akin to a doctor having a critically ill patient with all signs of anemia, and who has all the needed vitamins and other drugs to boost the health of the patient, yet refuses to administer them on the patient. It is either the doctor wants the patient dead, or has lost his professional competence. Either way, he is no longer fit to bear the name.
A former Power and Steel minister confessed that he was aware of the abandoned equipment, for which he had set up a committee to work out how to distribute it. Yet the committee's report never saw the light of day. The bureaucracy apparently stalled the distribution of the equipment all these years.
What that simply means is that it is either a clear case of sabotage or criminal professional negligence. It is for acts like this that the civil service is sometimes likened to evil service.
Any wonder that the civil servants have sometimes been accused of conniving with Generator sellers in ensuring that the power sector remains perpetually prostrate, so that the generating plant market will continue to boom.
Were it not so, how come for ten years, the audit unit of the Ministry of Power and Steel did not file a report on the abandoned items in the store? Is it a case of collusion with the powers that be in the ministry? Or was it done so that the abandoned equipment can always be presented as the supplies from current orders? The puzzles are many.
This is inhibitive bureaucracy on parade. Hence we believe that all those involved should be summoned to explain their role in this scandal.
This sort of development impels us to recommend that external auditors be always invited to look into the books