Managing the Nigerian power sector is a very difficult task. The performance of the sector is a standard of assessment of a government; a failure in the sector translates into the failure of the government. The sector is so broad that a year of successful efforts can be diluted by a 24-hour failure. For example, if the government builds power stations, transmission lines, motivates workforces; formulate excellent policies and programs within a year, a 24-hour lapse in distribution – a sector not directly managed by the government – can erode all of these.
The new minister comes with a challenge of his own. His appointment was due to the apparent failure of his predecessor in achieving deliverables. President Muhammadu Buhari sees Mr. Abubakar Aliyu as someone who can make things happen, correct errors, and strengthen power generation, transmission, and distribution.
Does Abubakar have the capacity to deliver what Buhari and Nigerians expect of him? The minister is coming into the power sector with an illustrious profile. He is a seasoned politician, a former minister of state for works and housing, a proven technocrat, including an accomplished engineer, a Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, a member of the Council of Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), and has the record of being the longest-serving deputy governor in Nigeria, – 10 and a half years as the deputy governor of Yobe State. These experiences will assist him in the ease of administration, and managing diverse people.
The minister must have had some of these challenges in his mind when he said “Don’t look at me as the minister of power that I have come to make magic. No, I am not a magician. I am coming to add value to what you have already been doing. So let us work together in honesty and full commitment”.
How will Abubakar achieve his target of adding value to a sector that is very complex?
Firstly, he must employ a reductionist approach. Each component of the sector must be administered as a whole; while putting the right people and strategy in the right place. Secondly, being a controversy-free person, the minister will certainly avoid needless controversies in terms of dealing with heads of the parastatals under his ministry. Thirdly, the public must adequately know what is happening in his ministry – that is good publicity and public image management that is at par with the expectations of Nigerians. Fourthly, the distribution sector is critical for the minister to achieve any success. A dynamic plan for the efficiency of the distribution sector is thus significant.
Zayyad I. Muhammad, Abuja