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OPINION

Buhari: Can We Speak Evil Of The Living Legend?

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By Ikeddy ISIGUZO

MUHAMMADU Buhari, former President of Nigeria, has no spartan expectations when he is praised. Forget his ditters. Buhari glows in the glories of the gamut of his failures. He still only cares for himself.
When he turned up for the public presentation of Walking with Buhari, Femi Adeshina’s reflections on being his Special Adviser, Media, and Publicity, Buhari was stiff, smug, distant, and bore the same askance that saw Nigeria dither for eight years under him.
“Without documentation, revisionism wins. Human beings often have short memories, and unless events are recorded in cold print, some people would come and attempt to either distort or even obliterate recent history,” Buhari said in praise of his achievements which another five-volume publication also recorded.
The rule used to be not to speak evil of the dead. For Buhari, every rule is broken, standards dumped, and history distorted to make something of him. Buhari’s failures are never stated. Is it plausible that Buhari is unaware that his failures strip words of meaning? How does one assess a President whose favourite response to critical national issues was, “I am not aware”? At least he is aware of history, that is a good start, though belated.
His successor, Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Jagaban Borgu, is a beneficiary of the low points Buhari took Nigeria to in eight years that were built on false hopes, and in real terms no hope.
Pa Edwin Clark, Convener of Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, reacting to the Buhari books was nearer the mark about non-existent Buhari amplitudes. “To most of us as Nigerians, Muhammadu Buhari failed abysmally as President. His administration was full of insecurity, economic collapse, injustice, religious bigotry, and lack of direction. The eight years of his administration plunged Nigeria and Nigerians, five decades backward. Even his successor, the current President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, noted as much in his speech at the time of the occasion where Buhari was eulogising himself,” Pa Clark’s statement read.
Adeshina said his book was meant to correct wrong narratives about Buhari. He is right. Wrong or right could be directed by our biases. In fairness to Buhari, let the party manifesto with which he contested the elections be the basis for our narratives.
On Thursday, 6 March 2014, when the All Progressives Congress, APC, launched its manifesto in Abuja, it impressed Nigerians with a commitment to change Nigeria. Buhari was the man who drove that “change” with a reckless zeal that changed Nigeria so much that we only remember where we started the journey, but have kept wondering, in our wandering, if there was a destination.
Some excerpts from APC’s manifesto –
.Make our economy one of the fastest growing emerging economies in the world with real GDP growth averaging 10% annually;
.Embark on vocational training, entrepreneurial and skills acquisition schemes for graduates along with the creation of the Small Business Loan Guarantee Scheme to create at least 1 million new jobs every year, for the foreseeable future;
.Embark on export and production diversification including investment in infrastructure;
.Promote manufacturing through agro-based industries and expand sub-regional trade through ECOWAS and AU;
.Make Information Technology, Manufacturing, Agriculture and Entertainment key drivers of our economy;
.Balance the economy across regions by the creation of 6 new Regional Economic Development Agencies (REDAs) to act as champions of sub-regional competitiveness;
.Put in place an N300bn regional growth fund (average of N50bn in each geo-political region) to be managed by the REDAs, encourage private sector enterprise and support to help places currently reliant on the public sector;
.Create an additional middle-class of at least 2 million new homeowners in our first year in government and 1 million annually thereafter; by enacting a national mortgage system that will lend at single-digit interest rates for the purchase of owner-occupied houses;
.Targeting up to 15% of our annual budget for this critical sector (Education) whilst making substantial investments in training quality teachers at all levels of the educational system;
.Promote the concept of reserving a minimum number of seats in the National Assembly for women;
.Create teams of volunteers to plant and nurture economically viable trees in arid regions;
.Restructure the Ecological Fund Office to enable it to meet today’s environmental challenges;
.Generate, transmit and distribute from current 5,000-6,000 MW to at least 20,000 MW of electricity within four years and increasing to 50,000 MW to achieve 24/7 uninterrupted power supply within ten years, whilst simultaneously ensuring the development of sustainable/renewable energy;
How did Buhari fare with the APC manifesto in eight years? Where are the six new Regional Economic Development Agencies? Was the proposed N50 billion per region spent on other regional developments?
Did Buhari deliver the nine million housing units APC promised?
How many millions of new jobs did Buhari create in eight years? Where are the economic plans to sustain annual yearly growth of 10 percent? To ensure fairness to Buhari, can we drive the Buhari narratives on similar questions?
Tinubu mostly rehashed APC’s failed manifesto. Tinubu’s manifesto affronts with the futile efforts to garb APC in a new attire.
Apart from the unanswered questions on implementation, Tinubu the great leader lifted APC’s manifesto in place and minimised the 2015 promises.
An example, “l will establish new industrial growth centres by creating six new Regional Economic Development Agencies. These agencies will create sub-regional industrial hubs to exploit each zone’s competitive advantage and optimise their potential”. Tinubu gingerly left out the N50 billion funding of 2015 and avoided funding totally.
“My administration’s critical goal is to have 15,000 megawatts distributable to all categories of consumers nationwide to ensure 24/7 sustainable power supply within the next four years” We enjoyed a promise of 20,00 megawatts, scalable to 50,000 megawatts from the same APC. Why did Tinubu promise less? If Nigerians needed 20,000 megawatts of electricity in 2015, have we grown fewer in eight years that we would require less electricity?
Tinubu will stop fuel subsidies and determine the price of fuel by market forces. “By the time we took (sic) office, the Dangote refinery would have been fully operational, nullifying the need to import refined petroleum. There will be no need for a subsidy because the market will be open and transparent, supply will come from local refineries, and the forces
of demand and supply will determine the price of petroleum products,” Tinubu’s manifesto states.
Can Dangote Refinery meet the current national daily demand of 66 million litres (NNPC’s figures)? Dangote is expected to produce 55 million litres of fuel daily. Will Dangote not sell to more lucrative foreign markets?
“My administration will collaborate with state governments, the building and construction industry, private sector investors, and banks to build and sell over 5 million new homes within the next four years. I will introduce a national mortgage system that will lend at single-digit interest rates to purchase these owner-occupied homes,” Tinubu repeated APC’s 2015 promise.
Like Buhari, like Tinubu. By the time Tinubu leaves office, there could be over 20-volume publications glossing over his bumbling incompetence in security management, celebrated looting of the commonwealth that is treated as national culture, cohesion on a national direction, and the standard belief that leadership is about photo opportunities.
The unending shame about our torpid accommodation of listless leadership is that a Buhari can make a public appearance to discuss history and his entitlement to be vindicated for his dedication to momentary wakefulness and sloppy speeches that confirm unimagined concerns over Buhari.

Finally…
DAYS after an explosion in Ibadan, the cause of the mayhem remains speculation. The rising kidnapping in Abuja is another security issue that is lost in incredibly spare considerations in our lives. Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Minister, Dr. Nyesom Wike, a lawyer of over 27 years standing, blames Area Council Chairmen for insecurity in FCT. The Constitution which Wike has sworn several times to uphold lists the establishment and maintenance of cemeteries, burial grounds, markets, parks, and homes for the destitute or infirm as the major roles of the Local Governments. For Wike to share the blame the way he did, means that insecurity and the blast in Ibadan could be lost in blame-shifting,  blame-sharing.

.Isiguzo is a major commentator on minor issues

OPINION

To Protect Everyone’s Health, Protect Everyone’s Rights

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By Leopold Zekeng*

The enactment of Nigeria’s HIV/AIDS Anti-Discrimination Act – a national law hinged on the protection of the rights of people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS from discrimination based on their HIV status, is indeed progressive. However, to date, only about 18 states in Nigeria have domesticated the Act.
Evidence from the Nigeria PLHIV Stigma Index Survey revealed that 24.5% of adults aged 35-44 and 21.7% of young adults aged 18-24 have experienced stigma and discrimination. In some instances, key populations in Nigeria have experienced discrimination, violent law enforcement practices, arrests and other forms of human rights violations. Violence and discrimination against women and girls also remain pervasive. These violations often shove persons living with HIV and key populations to the margins of society, denying them access to life-saving health and social services, including HIV services.
Globally, 38 countries have pledged to end HIV-related stigma and discrimination through the Global Partnership for Action to Eliminate all Forms of HIV-Related Stigma and Discrimination (Global Partnership). These are hard-fought gains. Nonetheless, Nigeria is yet to formally join the Global Partnership.
However, the unwavering commitments and investments by stakeholders including the Nigerian government, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), UNAIDS, Global Fund, United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and other partners, have been instrumental in catalyzing progress towards ending stigma and discrimination in Nigeria. Communities of persons living with HIV have also been at the frontline of combatting stigma and discrimination. Recently, the Community of Practice to address HIV-related stigma and discrimination in Nigeria was launched by the Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN), Association of Women Living with HIV in Nigeria (ASWHAN) & Association of Young People living with HIV in Nigeria (APYIN). The platform seeks to facilitate capacity strengthening, exchange of best practices and promote synergy amongst stakeholders in addressing stigma and discrimination in health care, education, workplace, justice systems, communities, emergency and humanitarian settings.
When marginalized communities are criminalized or stigmatized, their vulnerability to HIV infection increases, and their access to HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support services is obstructed. Countries that are beating the AIDS epidemic are doing so by repealing laws and policies that discriminate, by expanding human rights for all and by allowing marginalized communities to lead the response.
Public health is undermined when laws, policies, practices or norms enshrine punishment, discrimination or stigma for people because they are women, key populations, or persons living with HIV. Discrimination obstructs HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care, and holds back progress towards the end of AIDS.
We have hope, however, from communities on the frontlines. As Dr. Martin Luther King noted, “Social progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of people.” It is the communities most affected by discrimination that are leading the pushback against the erosion of their right to health, against the right to life. They are uniting their efforts to protect and advance human rights. They need, and deserve, all our support. The rights path strengthens entire societies, making them better equipped to deal with the challenges we face today and those that are emerging.
The right to non-discrimination as guaranteed under Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant human rights treaties and standards, is the cornerstone of international human rights law. Having ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and other relevant treaties, the Nigerian government has an obligation to ensure that national laws and policies do not discriminate against people and that all persons including persons living with HIV are protected against such discrimination by third parties.
Furthermore, the Global Aids Strategy requires that all countries including Nigeria create an enabling legal environment by removing punitive laws, introducing and enforcing protective legislations and policies, and eradicating the abuse of criminal and general laws to target people living with HIV and key populations.
Discrimination against anyone is harmful to the health of everyone. For Nigeria to deliver on the promise to end AIDS by 2030, action is urgently needed to advance the protection of the human rights of everyone, everywhere. The Zero Discrimination Day, celebrated around the world every 1 March, presents an opportunity for Nigeria to strengthen its commitment through ensuring the domestication and effective implementation of the HIV/AIDS Anti-Discrimination Act in all states across Nigeria, formally joining the Global Partnership, committing to take actions on HIV-related stigma and discrimination across all six settings; and letting communities lead in addressing stigma and discrimination.

*Dr. Zekeng, UNAIDS Nigeria Country Director, writes from Abuja.

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OPINION

The  Era Of Complacency Has Come To An End

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By Mondy Gold*

We are compelled to write this letter out of deep concern and urgency. Our beloved country is at a crossroads, facing significant challenges that threaten our very survival. Each day brings new challenges that threaten to erode the fabric of our society. At this critical juncture, we must not avoid confronting the harsh realities that await us. Instead, we must summon the courage to face these challenges head on, demanding nothing less than tangible and meaningful change from those who lead us. Our future is dependent on the courage of our actions and the firmness of our resolve.

1. Address the main issues: corruption, exchange rate, and poor leadership. Given our country’s dire economic situation, the current rate of 1470 NGN is simply unattainable. The underlying causes of this economic crisis, namely rampant corruption and ineffective governance, have yet to be adequately addressed.

2. Many Nigerians and friends believe Mr. Bola Tinubu is incompetent and incapable. With an inflation rate of around 44% and reports indicating that a staggering 65% of Nigerians have encountered corruption in dealings with public officials, it is clear that the rot runs deep within our institutions, owing directly to ineffective leadership.

3. Our nation urgently requires revolutionary actions and transformational shifts. The time for waiting has ended.

4. Corruption is used by the ruling elite to undermine law enforcement and economic development. It impedes the protection of fundamental environmental, economic, human, and civil liberties, perpetuating poverty, social unrest, insecurity, and political upheaval. Despite the introduction of numerous anti-corruption measures at both federal and state levels, the malignant growth of corruption remains unrestrained.

5. Regrettably, the current administration lacks the capability and resolve to effectively confront this persistent and crippling issue, as they are complicit in its propagation. This entrenched corruption has hindered our strides towards enhancing agricultural productivity, establishing a competitive manufacturing sector, and tapping into Nigeria’s technological and innovative capabilities.

6. We are convinced that Mr. Tinubu has elevated corruption to a formidable level and is using it as a weapon on both the national and global fronts, on a scale unprecedented in previous administrations. A revolutionary shift in governance, especially in financial management, is imperative. We must insist on accountability and transparency from these corrupt leaders, and hold them accountable for their deeds. We cannot endure a system where the elite enrich themselves while the masses suffer. Under no circumstances should we permit Mr. Tinubu or any other figure to institutionalize corruption as a national strategy.

7. While the recent streamlining of ministries and agencies may appear to be a positive step, it is merely a tactical maneuver to sidestep the undeniable necessity for comprehensive restructuring. What we require is decisive and bold action, not superficial measures aimed at pacifying the public while preserving the status quo. The Nigerian Diaspora, endowed with resources and expertise, adamantly refuse to be purposefully excluded from the nation’s developmental endeavors.  Therefore, any successful reorganization of ministries must include the establishment of a dedicated Ministry of the Nigerian Diaspora.

8. We must express our profound disappointment in Mr. Bola Tinubu, whom many had hoped would be a champion for change. Instead, his actions have shown him to be nothing more than a coward, unwilling to confront the deep-seated corruption that plagues our nation.

9. It is time to dismantle the legislative system as it currently exists. We do not need the bloated bureaucracy of hundreds of federal legislators, who brazenly and obscenely allocate billions to themselves, while honest and hardworking taxpayers continue to struggle. Instead, we should have no more than 37 part-time representatives tasked with the formulation of laws for Nigeria.

10. We demand an end to all foreign trips for appointed and elected officials, as well as their family members, until the exchange rate is stabilized at 1 USD to 100 NGN. Our public officials should not be gallivanting around the globe while our economy suffers. We have ambassadors in all countries of the world who are capable of dealing with our needs internationally.

11. We demand an immediate cessation of all international meetings, including those held at the United Nations, until further notice or until our economy experiences substantial improvement. This directive applies to all government officials, including Mr. President of Nigeria. As earlier stated, our ambassadors are eminently qualified to represent us at the international stage until we have achieved a guaranteed 24-hour electricity supply, implemented a ban on the importation of generators, and ensured the full reactivation of all refineries and seaports. It is imperative that we prioritize addressing these fundamental issues before engaging in any further international commitments.

12. We must strive for greater diversity in political appointments, welcoming more women and members of the Nigerian Diaspora into positions of power. These individuals can disrupt the corrupt networks that manipulate our systems and structures, bringing fresh perspectives and innovative solutions to the table.

13. But perhaps most importantly, we need a revolutionary government led by someone with the courage and capacity to arrest, prosecute, and jail all those who have stolen from Nigeria since 1999. We must dismantle the networks of corruption that have crippled our country for far too long.

14. We know the Rowlings of Nigeria and the Tokyos of Nigeria who can lead us out of this darkness, but they need your support and leadership. There can be no development without the destruction of corruption. We must win the war on this terroristic corruption that has held us back for far too long.

Fellow Nigerians, the time for complacency is over. We must rise up and demand the change we deserve. Our future depends on it. The time for action is now. Our people are suffering, and they are looking to the Nigerian Diaspora for leadership. Will you rise to the occasion and be the agent of change that Nigeria so desperately needs?

Yours in solidarity!
*Prof.(Amb.) Mondy Gold is the Founder of the Global Nigerian Diaspora Forum and the Coordinator, African Diaspora for Good Governance in the United States of America

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OPINION

The Day Of Glory And Falsehood On Aba Power Project

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By Sam Amadi*

Congratulations to Professor Barth Nnaji and his crew for the successful completion of Aba Power project after many years of setbacks. This is a day of jubilation for Aba residents and people of the five southeast states. Governor Alex Otti and his officials deserve praise for their contribution to the completion of the Aba Power project. Aba is the heartland of Igbo industrialization. The prospect of 24 hours power every day in Aba portends good fortunes for the Southeast region. This is evidently a landmark event that elicits joy across the country.

But, it is sad that some want to turn a day of glory to a day of falsehood. Some with other agenda against others would not allow Barth Nnaji, his team, Governor Otti and the people of Aba to rejoice on this important milestone. There was no need to use the happy occasion of the commission of the Aba Power and Geometry to peddle blatant falsehood about the project and the roles certain persons may have played.

Many people in Nigeria and outside the country has drawn my attention to an article going viral on social media where my person and character was scandalized in regard to events surrounding Aba Power project. I am sad at false statements published by the BusinessDay newspaper on Tuesday, February 27, 2024. The article written by a certain Lolade Akinmurele and titled “The dark side of the Aba power project” peddles falsehood about my person and my role as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

The article chronicles the history of the project and focuses on those the author believes frustrated it. The article narrates how then Vice President, Namadi Sambo, Emeka Offor, DG, BPE, Benjamin Dikki, Mohammed Bello Adoke, the Attorney General of the Federation, and Anyim Pius Anyim allegedly frustrated Bart Nnaji and Aba Power. I am not bothered with the tendentious narration of events. I am angry at the attempt of the author to rope me into the alleged conspiracy. He wrote “Offor, who was blocking the project, has Ayim Pius Anyim, secretary to the government, in his pocket, while Sam Amadi, the Chairman of and CEO of NERC, was beholding to Anyim”.

Interestingly, the author does not mention any action that I or NERC took or decision that we made that affected Bart Nnaji adversely and benefited Emeka Offor. To show that the inclusion of my name in an alleged conspiracy was a deliberate plot to tarnish my name, in the same article, he mentioned the positive action NERC under my leadership as Chairman and CEO took which was sympathetic to Bart Nnaji. For example, he states as follow: “A report by NERC, after a visit to the Geometry Power infrastructure in Aba, submitted a report that ‘it will be a disservice to the country in general and the company (GPAL and APL) in particular, after investing such a huge amount of money in power infrastructure, to be denied the term of the tripartite agreement. A disregard of the agreement will cast a doubt on the federal government privatization process and send a wrong signal to other prospective investors in the private sector”. How the head of an agency that wrote such a report be accused without any other contrary fact of conniving against the Aba Power project? Of course, the phrase “beholding to Anyim’ in that contest was added to tarnish my reputation. The manner my name was obliquely mentioned as a stooge of Pius Ayim is an effort to paint me as someone who is not as honest as he professes. It is a deliberate effort to stain my integrity and public service records.

I have always cherished my honest public service record in Nigeria. I have challenged anyone who has any evidence of financial or other improprieties against me during my five years stewardship in NERC to bring it forward. In fact, I have on numerous occasions asked to be thoroughly probed for any financial other improprieties. Since over 8 years I left office, no one has issued me a query for any wrongdoing. I am very proud of my character and reputation, and I will defend it with every ounce of energy and pint of blood. As someone who has built and maintained a character and reputation for truthfulness, honesty and integrity, and who cherishes greatly my record of unstained public service, I bear a responsibility to correct this falsehood and present the truth facts of my role in the Aba Power project saga.

It is important to note that even by the account of the author, neither NERC nor I played key role in the contract between Bart Nnaji and the federal government and the sale of Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC). As a regulator, we were very clear that our role is regulatory and not transactional.
In the foregoing I make the following statements of facts.
1. The contract between Prof Barth Nnaji and the federal government over the Aba Power project was entered in 2005, five years before I became Chairman of NERC. The contract was a leasehold over some part of the Aba distribution area. The contract requires the federal government to allow Bart Nnaji to operate the two business units in Ariara and Osisioma in Aba, described as the ‘ring-fenced area’. Bart Nnaji also has a power plant to supply power to the ring-fenced area. The contract anticipates privatization and gives Aba Power the right of first refusal over the ring-fenced area whenever the federal government intends to sell the Enugu Distribution Company.
2. Prof Barth Nnaji was the Minister of Power from 2011 to 2013 when the process for privatization was completed. He was only removed just before the winners of the bid were announced. Throughout the relevant period of the privatization, Professor Barth Nnaji was Minister of Power and had de facto control of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) that executed the privatization process. He chaired the Presidential Task Force on Power and was key figure in the National Council on Privatization that made key decisions about privatization. The Director General of BPE, Bola Onaguruwa worked closely with him and generally under his control as Minister of Power.
3. I was appointed chairman of NERC in December 2010 after the federal government through the Ministry of Power and the BPE had rolled out the Presidential Action Plan for Power whose highpoint was privatization of the PHCN successor companies. NERC’s responsibility was to provide regulations to support the privatization. The most important components of regulatory support are the evaluation of the assets of the various companies to be privatized and the preparation of tariffs. The Minister of Power and the DG of BPE asked NERC to evaluate the assets of the 11 distribution companies (DISCOs), including the Enugu Disco. There was no request to separate the ring-fenced areas from Enugu Disco for separate evaluation. The reason being that the Ministry of Power and BPE intended to privatize the entire Enugu distribution area to whoever was the preferred bidder.
4. To the best of my knowledge, Prof Bart Nnaji as part of his business plan, intended to buy the Enugu Disco. There is nothing wrong about that. He is an entrepreneur whose entry into power sector was first as a private power producer in a deal to supply power to Abuja metropolis. Perhaps, based on the confidence that he would win the bid he neglected or forgot to separate the Aba Ring-Fenced area from the rest of Enugu Disco before he authorized the privatization of the entire Enugu Disco, including the Aba ring-fenced area. Later, when I confronted both DG BPE and Prof Bart Nnaji on why he failed to separate the Aba ‘ring-fenced’ area from Enugu Disco before authorizing privatization, they argued something to the effect that the Vice President opposed them. I have no proof of this fact.
5. Professor Barth Nnaji organized a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to bid for Enugu Disco, including the Aba ring-fenced area. He set up a special committee of BPE and Ministry of Power officials to evaluate the bids for the discos. After close of bid, his SPV, was adjudged the winner of the ENTIRE Enugu disco, including the Aba ring-fenced area.
6. At no time did I participate in evaluating or choosing the winner of the bid. A few NERC staff who participated in the evaluation process were mere observers because NERC as a regulator has no responsibility to sell private public enterprises.
7. After the evaluation and selection of Barth Nnaji’s firm as the preferred bidder, Chief Emeka Offor’s consortium petitioned on the ground of error. The Presidency empaneled a special committee chaired by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Power. The Chairman of NERC, the DG of BPE and BPE consultants were member with a mandate to review the process. After reviewing the process, the committee agreed that Chief Emeka Offor’s consortium ought to win the bid after correcting the error. The NCP approved Chief Emeka Offor’s consortium as the winner of the bid and the preferred bidder.
8. After the declaration of Chief Emeka Offor’s consortium as the winner, Bola Onagoruwa, the DG of BPE, wrote to NERC to cut off Aba ring-fenced area from Enugu disco area and reevaluate it for Barth Nnaji to purchase. NERC rejected that request because it would violate regulatory due process. You cannot conclude a sale of a territory and after the buyer has fulfilled terms and conditions you alter the sale. While he was the Minister of Power and supervised the privatization, Professor Bart Nnaji had opportunity to demand the performance of the contract he had with federal government to be given the right of first rejection to purchase the Aba ring-fenced area before privatization. He did not do so, since he had reasonable expectations that he would purchase the entire Enugu disco. But unfortunately, he lost to Emeka Offor. NERC took the view that it would be a corrupt and unlawful action to alter the completed transaction to compensate Bart Nnaji in the circumstances in which he participated and lost out in the wholesome sale of Enugu disco.
9. As a responsible regulator, NERC sent a team of its technical staff to evaluate the work done by Geometry and Aba Power on the ground. The team reported highly of the efforts of Prof Bart Nnaji and his team. Based on this report, I wrote to the CEO of Enugu Distribution Company to implement the contract between the federal government and Bart Nnaji by allowing Aba Power ‘operationalize’ the contract to exercise authority over the Aba ring-fenced area as a lessee.
10. Bart Nnaji proceeded to court against the federal government for violating the lease agreement. Later Emeka Offor joined the suit. NERC was not part of the suit and had nothing to do with the contest between both parties.
11. There were many interventions at the presidency to settle the matter. At one of those meeting, President Jonathan asked me as Chairman of NERC to resolve it because I would follow due process. At NERC as a commission resolved to undertake a public hearing on the matter to ensure transparency and give all parties, including customers of the ring-fenced area to express their opinions. NERC advertised a date for a public hearing to conduct due process review of the dispute between Bart Nnaji’s company and Emeka Offor’s EEDC. Before the hearing, we got a letter from the Attorney General of the Federation asking us to hands-off as the matter was before the court.
12. The next time we had something to do with the matter was at the instance of the Buhari presidency. NERC had a regulatory meeting and issued an expert opinion that restates that Enugu disco should allow Aba Power to ‘operationalize’ the lease but as a lessee of Enugu disco and EEDC as lessor. This means that Aba Power will pay Enugu disco regulated fee for use of its network. Barth Nnaji rejected this view because he claimed he ought to be given full control of ring-fenced area by the federal government.
13. The last official engagement with the matter before I left office in December 2015 was a special meeting called by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo. Chief Olanipekun SAN led Bart Nnaji and Chief Ademola SAN led a director of Enugu disco for Emeka Offor for the meeting. The Vice President endorsed the NERC recommended option as the fair and legal approach to solve the problem.
14. It is important to note that throughout this period I never had any meeting with either Emeka Offor or Pius Anyim or any of Emeka’s Offor’s proxy in any form on the matter in dispute. There has been no moment in my multiple interactions with Anyim Pius Anyim as Secretary to Government of the Federation that he ever sought my opinion or offer any opinion to me about the dispute over Aba Power. Chief Emeka Offor never met me privately in my office or anywhere to discuss the matter with me.
15. As a matter of fact, it was Bart Nnaji who had made efforts to discuss the matter privately with me. First, he came to my office to discuss the matter with the highly revered Paschal Dozie. I told Mr. Dozie the truth as I always do that the only solution short of a judicial decision to the benefit of Bart Nnaji is to operationalize the lease so that Aba Power pays lease to Enugu disco and distribute power in the ring-fenced area. Bart Nnaji also came to my house with another of his friend and we had lunch, and I restated my position. So, if there is anyone who has had personal conversation with me over the Aba Power project it is neither Pius Anyim Pius nor Emeka Offor. It is actually Professor Bart Nnaji.

These are facts which can be crosschecked with records with NERC. I challenge anyone who doubts this narration of facts to trigger a Freedom of Information request and scrutinize the records of proceedings of NERC regulatory and management meetings. As I always state in matter of integrity and due process, if there is any evidence that I ever had a meeting with anyone or anyway took any action contrary to what I stated here I will voluntarily go to prison for any such offence.

Let me make it clear. One of the accusations against me is that I was fiercely independent as a regulator and did not listen to anyone outside NERC in regulatory decisions. Everyone in the power sector knows that I would rather resign than submit to the dictation of anyone outside NERC. I have said it before that I am personally responsible for any decision I made as NERC Chairman. I had in the past absolved President Jonathan or any other person from any liability for decisions made by NERC. No one pressured or forced me to take any action that is wrong or self-serving. I am proud that nothing has been found against me more than 8 years since I left office as the Chairman of NERC. Since then, I have not done any work for any company in the electricity sector. I removed myself from any benefit from the sector far beyond the 2 years that the Act requires me to recuse myself. I have not received one kobo from any company in the Nigerian electricity industry. I challenge anyone to contradict me on this claim.

The article tried to stain my reputation by suggesting that I worked on behalf of Anyim and Emeka Offor to delay or deny the completion of Aba Power project. That is an absolute falsehood as the facts above attest. It is an insult to suggest I was beholding to Anyim Pius Anyim in doing my work on Chairman of NERC. As records show, in all circumstances, I acted on my understanding of what the law and facts require of me as a regulator. It is ironic that it was the same Anyim Pius Anyim who once told me that President Jonathn once said ‘Please let everyone allow Sam do his work. For once, let us have a man of courage and integrity who would not succumb to anyone”. I am proud that I maintained that integrity throughout my tenure at NERC. I am sure Prof Bart Nnaji knows me so well. He is not and cannot be part of this blatant lie.

Whereas I need to correct the false statement against me, it should not obscure the great achievement of the moment. The commissioning of the Aba Power project is a testimony to the commitment and resilience of Prof Bart Nnaji. It is a good fortune for Governor Alex Otti and the people of Abia as they strive to make Aba the industrial heartland of Nigeria as it deserves to be. Nigeria now has an example of how to do it better and faster from the Aba Power project.

Let us embrace the learning without the falsehood. As for BusinessDay and its writer, they will have their day in court for libel.

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