The federal government Friday moved swiftly to assure international development partners of its commitment to power reforms. This came on the same day former power minister, Professor Bart Nnaji, handed over to the ministry's junior minister, Darius Ishaku.
Some of the development partners that have been at the forefront of support for reforms in the country's electricity sector had expressed fears that the process may backslide with the exit of Nnaji as minister of power.
But these fears were quelled after a meeting Friday involving top management of the ministry of power led by the minister of state for power and the development partners.
Ishaku said the partners were assured that their efforts aimed at repositioning the country's power sector would not be in vain "or become one of the outcomes of government's inconsistency."
Nnaji, who also confirmed the fears expressed by the development partners, however assured that reforms in the power sector would continue as scheduled.
The former minister, who was said to have had a meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan before the handover ceremony, also assured that the reforms which he had put together with a collection of experts would outlive him, adding that he saw no reason why the international development partners should withdraw their support to the sector.
He stressed that the various agreements with General Electric of US, and Siemens would continue and would be implemented to the fullest.
Said Nnaji: "Governance is about structures. We need to continue to build on the existing structures we have established and get the sector to keep growing. The international community needs not to worry. A structure is in place to continue to grow power."
In his remarks after the handover, Ishaku described Nnaji as the pillar of the power sector, expressing confidence that the structure he built in the ministry would last long.
"With the structure you have left behind, we will succeed. The foreign partners are yet to get over the shock. In fact, at a meeting we had this morning, many of them expressed worry over the development. But, we assured them that government is a continuum. They wanted assurance that the power roadmap would continue to be implemented. And we assured them that we had learnt enough to enable us stand on the existing structure and succeed. Like a tripod with one leg, we have lost a dependable part of our structure; the strength on which we rest on. One leg of that tripod is missing now and we have to work extra hard to keep the balance.
"The only thing we can leave behind for you is to build on what you started. You are leaving behind a structure the world should be proud of. Before it was Bart Nnaji that people used to disturb to give them power, now it would be Darius that they will be calling. We are in trouble. At this stage, we can't afford to move backwards. We need to continue the journey," he said.
However, a funny event happened before the handover ceremony began as the ministry which had earlier removed Nnaji's portrait from its walls, quickly restored them shortly before the hand over.