Promise of a new lease of life for Nigeria's epileptic power sector was kindled with the launch of a new 13 point plan for repositioning the sector by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing Mr. Raji Fashola.
The plan was launched last week at a ceremony held at the headquarters of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), which had in attendance the core stakeholders in the sector such as power Generating Companies and Distributing Companies (DISCOs and GENCOs) as well as transmission companies among others.
The key provisions of the plan includes a scheduled continuous engagement of the operators of the sector with the general public, around mutual core concerns such as electricity tariffs, revenue collection, payments and debts, as well as generating capacity, which undoubtedly remains central to the nation's power sector challenge.
Yet other areas covered by the plan include the complement of ancillary services, and dispatch order, procedure and discipline, gas requirements and supply, load off take and imbalances, location of excess and overload safety, quality service, as well as new captive and embedded generation and franchising. Most significantly the plan institutes a new monthly sectorial meeting of all operators where they will be availed feedback from consumers and compare notes.
Ostensibly the plan's main purpose is to establish a seamless interface between the service providers and consumers of power in the country. For this initiative we congratulate the minister, and share the hopes of millions of Nigerians that this time around the country will get its act together, as far as the sector is concerned.
At least the minister's eventful past record in public office as the two term action governor of strategic Lagos State justifies high expectations by Nigerians that he can deliver.
Yet we also are sounding a note of caution that the central problem of the power sector is not the lack of good plans for moving the sector forward, but implementing such plans successfully. Incidentally he is inheriting an elaborately fashioned Power Sector Road Map which the immediate past administration had developed and used to execute the landmark reforms including its privatization.
It is also instructive that he also will find waiting for him the burden of resolving the unintended fallouts from the privatization exercise which introduced private sector operators into the sector with knotty consequences.
Hence the Minister will need to address himself to the task of ensuring that the plan not only reconciles with whatever legacies derive from the previous administration, but is implemented as much as is possible. It is in this context that we expect it to feature realizable timelines and other targets with respect to delivery of steady and affordable power to all Nigerians.
Beyond the dispensation of freedom from colonial rule of the country in 1960, the provision of steady electric power for the country remains the next most critical factor for moving the country to the next level.
It is therefore noteworthy that the present administration correctly realized the premium Nigerians place on the availability of stable power supply all over the country, and enjoyed public approval when it assigned the leadership of its reform programme for the sector to Mr. Fashola.
His approach to the job at hand will therefore remain most significant in appraising the performance of the present administration by Nigerians.
This is why he cannot afford to fail in leading the country out of the present unacceptable and shameful state of epileptic power supply. Given the history of power sector management in the country, the present initiative by Fashola easily constitutes a make or break point that cannot fail. We therefore wish him good speed and resounding success in this national assignment.