Nebo: The New Spirit In The Power Sector
When the Minister of Power, Professor Chinedu Ositadimma Nebo, stood before the Senate earlier this year to declare that he was going to exorcise the demons in the power sector, it immediately made media headlines. It could not have been otherwise because the approach was completely new. Nobody before him had openly pursued it. If they contemplated it, they never brought it to the public space. That Nebo has blazed this trail, is not surprising.
He possesses what many of his ilk lack or overlook. It is strange that many people who have gone through the academic mills and acquired the first-grade credentials, as he has, soon abandon the most crucial part – God.
That, of course, is one of the major fundamentals the former Vice Chancellor of two federal universities in Nigeria is bringing to the table which, rather than serving as a footnote, is likely to define his era in his present job and from there, create the template for Nigeria to leap into a future of greatness that has become so elusive in the past, but which everybody, including its enemies, believe is waiting right at the next bend.
And nobody is guessing here. It was the same talisman that Nebo used to end the many years of rot at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN, which, before his arrival, was already gaining notoriety for being a suburb of hell that many of the nation’s tertiary institutions have become in recent years because of cultism. Under Nebo’s predecessor, Professor Ginigeme Mbanefo, was kidnapped and for a few days, became game for the unconscionable elements. Also under Mbanefo,15 students were killed at a go in 2003 and a former dean butchered thereafter.
How did Nebo clear the putrefaction to ensure that his five-year tenure, between June 2004 and June 2009, rendered a totally different narrative, not only via the eradication of cultism, but infrastructural development?
His story at the Federal University, Oye Ekiti, provides a hint of how. There, he practically squeezed water out of stone in his attempt to build a first class institution. Needless to say that he was still at this project when his new appointment came.
This streak of successes, where many had failed, can only mean one thing: Nebo possesses the credentials to achieve his goals and applies them with a rare single-mindedness.
That is exactly why his vow to succeed in the power sector and deliver on President Goodluck Jonathan’s promise of making Nigerians enjoy constant electricity must be taken seriously.
In fact, he recently restated what he said at the Senate screening that it has become a kind of peculiar mantra. Reading the riot act for the umpteenth time, during an interview on a Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, programme, Platform, last week, the minister said: “We are setting up a very robust monitoring device. One thing I can assure you is that all leakages will be plugged. It’s not going to be business as usual. The legacy that we have now will not tolerate the so-called Nigerian factor and leakages. It is time for everybody to know that it is no longer business as usual. If anyone wants to continue in the old games, then we will hold them accountable. I can assure you that we have put in place a solid mechanism to ensure that when government puts in funds somewhere, government gets a concomitant, good, quality work that it has paid for.”
Amplifying his position last Monday, Nebo lamented how a cabal had grown out of some people seized by evil forces. These elements, whom he described as powerful, Nebo stressed, are opposed to progress in the power sector because of the benefits they have been reaping from the suffering of the people by gorging on funds they obtained for specific power projects.
“I mean, it is all too obvious that lots of funds have gone into the sector but in some areas, you don’t see a concomitant development in the sector, so there are problems within and without. There is the issue of Nigerian factor, cartels that feel that once there is power, they lose their own businesses,” he added.
Reiterating his resolve to solve the problem in line with the President’s resolve, Nebo, who said he was equally troubled, vowed to do everything required to ensure that the present crisis is resolved in favour of Nigerians.
And this resolution, according to him would mean a robust economy, where the giant will wake up again; where virtually the about 70 per cent or more of all the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), that have died would wake up again; where the barbers, hairdressers, vulcanisers, welders and others in similar trades would be alive and well; where Nigerians would go back to work and earn their living honestly and as a result, reduce the vices idleness has yoked the nation with. Nebo is also looking at how big businesses, like the telecommunication companies, would cut down operational costs by half because they would no longer rely on diesel, thus producing competitive goods and services like telephone tariff that is currently the highest in the world.
It is a common saying in Nigeria that only a tree will hear that it would be cut down and still stand in one place. A human being would shift grounds. Is it not time for this cabal to rethink their position?
Indeed, many people have argued that cabals are not necessarily bad by their name, but in what they do. They insist that most developed economies have their own versions of cabals, which corner all the big contracts and businesses, make huge profits, but still deliver. In so doing, they may even become instruments for checking charlatans and quacks.
Perhaps, Nebo may not be as virulent in his resolve to end their reign if the Nigerian version would adopt this option. But it is indeed up to them to explore it and see what happens next. But to obdurately remain a clog in the wheel of progress could become a recipe for their doom.
The blacksmith, who doesn’t know how to make the gong, it is said, must study the shape of the kite’s tail. Most of the big business empires in America today, who have established foundations to help humanity, according to some history, were actually bandits involved in all manner of crimes. But they had to give up, do a rethink when the time was up for them.
A similar wind is blowing in Nigeria today. The momentum is so fierce it will certainly destroy all obstacles on the way.
It is hurricane Nebo.