INVESTIGATION: Reasons behind epileptic power supply at the Federal Secretariat Abuja

INVESTIGATION: Reasons behind epileptic power supply at the Federal Secretariat Abuja

By Yemi Esho, Abuja

The greatest drawback Nigeria has witnessed in our years of existence is the inability of our leaders, elected, selected or appointed to think outside the box. Some people needed to be kicked in the ass to wake up to the reality and be prodded to do the right thing.

As a nation, Nigeria still lags in development, apparently, because the leaders at all level of government have not woken from their deep slumber and are not ready to. Is it also worrisome that 57 years after independence and almost 20 years of uninterrupted democracy in the Fourth Republic, we are still where we are?

Attitudinal change has always been our bane because we are used to the old, primitive and archaic ways of doing things when developed, developing and even some underdeveloped countries are embracing positive change.

The Federal Secretariat Complex in Abuja, the nation’s capital, houses most of the federal ministries and civil servants in their thousands throng there on daily basis to contribute to the economy in one way or the other. At the count of one’s fingers, there are more than 25 federal ministries at the complex. Departments and agencies are also well represented in addition to international and financial organizations that operate there.

It is disheartening to know that the gigantic complex which remains the nation’s window to the world has been consistently experiencing power failure which gives leeway to the workers and some top government functionaries also lazy around hinging their excuses on lack of power supply. The Nigerian government has spent billions of dollars on power generation but what we have witnessed is abysmal failure. The Olusegun Obasanjo government spent a whopping sum of $16billion (USSD) and that colossal failure did not add anything to the megawatts on the national grid and till today nobody dared to ask how the money was spent.

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Sadly, in the last 18 years, we are still oscillating between 3,000 and 5,000 megawatts of electricity which we celebrate like Christmas. The engagement of the distribution companies and generating companies by the Nigerian government popularly referred to as GENCOS and DISCOS have not added value to our power generation. While countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa are generating 70,000, 80,000 and 60,000 of power respectively, Nigeria, the ‘Giant of Africa’ is nowhere to be found.  It is a shame that countries like Ghana and (Benin Republic) where AljazirahNigeria just came back from enjoyed 24 hours regular power supply. These countries did not achieve their successes on a platter or through rocket science but through the collective efforts of every stakeholder involved in the power sector, including the citizens. The lethargic and sit-back nature of Nigerian leaders has led the country to where it is today.

AljazirahNigeria gathered on good authority that the ministers, heads of agencies, director generals, and other top officials have all abandoned the Federal Secretariat complex to operate from their various homes. This was more pronounced some six or seven months ago when the complex was without power for two weeks. The ministers who ought to have led by examples left the secretariat in their droves, leaving their subordinates and workers to go haywire and slowed down apparatus of government. To compound the woes, the ministers instead of meeting and finding lasting solutions to the quagmire, have formed the habits of going to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting inside the Aso Rock Villa right from their various residences. It is quite unfortunate that nothing has been put in place to arrest the ugly trend and the ministers have formed the habit of everything-is-well when they meet with President Muhammadu Buhari at the weekly meeting.

The President must be made to know that all is not well at the secretariat, but it takes the courage of the ministers to confront and inform the President whom they have given much respect to and turn into a demi-god. It is quite unfortunate this is happening in a complex that has the ministry of power. It is time for the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) to up his ante and bring the situation under control but sadly the minister finds more comfort at the Mabushi office of his ministry where he operates from.  

Civil servants who spoke with AljazirahNigeria want drastic steps to be taken to restore the good old days of the secretariat complex when the former military President Ibrahim Babangida moved the Federal Capital Territory from Lagos to Abuja in 1991.

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A top civil servant who pleaded anonymity said the inactions of the ministers have taken its toll on the productivity level of the workers who are hiding under the guise of lack of power to abandon government activities at will. “You cannot give what you don’t have and that is the situation we have found ourselves here. It is depressing that the so-called leaders are not showing the leadership qualities that the followers can imitate. We need an attitudinal change in this country, the will and the wish to put things in proper perspective. Our leaders lack the political power to effect the necessary changes because they do not want to offend anybody. They forget, however, that you have to step on big toes to achieve and posterity will surely judge long after they might have gone,” he said.   

But it seems good news is coming from the power sector as the Federal Government this week has got the sum of $64.6 billion from Benin and Niger Republics as part payment for electricity supplied to the two countries. According to the Minister of Power, Babatunde Fashola, during the 21st monthly power stakeholders in Asaba, the debt will be used to tackle the challenges in the power sector.

However, it is not only the Federal Secretariat that needs power to drive the economy. Artisans, traders, students in higher institutions of learning, rural dwellers and Nigerians as a whole need constant and stable power to contribute meaningfully and positively to economic growth and development of the country. 

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