By Lateef Adegbite
Shehu Garba, Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Army General on Media and Publicity may have surprised Nigerians when he appeared on Channel Television barely 48 hours after the Interview with the Katsina born Nigerian President at the Presidential Villa.
The Presidential Aide had appeared on the Channels Television Platform to further given an insight on the Administration’s successes and what it plans to still do in the next 17 months before the expiration of Buhari’s second term in office in 2023.
At the instance of the Nigerian President, he may have taken advantage of the Interview to shed more light on the Channels Television Interviewers question that Nigeria is still struggling to generate four thousand megawatts of electricity in spite of the retired Army General’s mandate to the German firm Siemens contracted in 2019, by the Administration and the other power distribution Companies including the regulatory Authorities to ensure that the country’s power generating capacity hit seven thousand Megawatts by 2022.
Note that prior to the Presidential arranged Interview the questions were said to have been sent to the President in advance for approval, study it and prepare himself for the earth shaking Interview. Recall that he had alluded to a former Nigerian president, which people believe he was referring to his estranged friend, Olusegun Obaanjo, whom, he had said that the Administration spent $15 billion, based on facts and figures from the Godwin Emefiele led Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to boost the nation’s power generation and distribution capacity but ‘’there is no power’’.
He had attributed the lack of performance of the Administration in the country’s power to patronage of people who do not have the technical background as they were not electrical engineers and do not have the money to run the power generation and distribution Companies. An aggrieved Buhari had described it as political patronage, noting that ‘’to remove a system and introduce a new one was not a joke’’, which may have informed why the Administration had not hit at it power generation target as expected by the public.
Many had expected the no nonsense retired Army General and President during the Channels Interviews to tell Nigerians in concrete terms the state of the country’s power sector as at today but his response may have kept Nigerians guessing that country is not yet to get where it could boast of stable power supply for as at today.
Garba, the President’s Aide had said that if he could not reel out the records on the state of the country’s power sector as people had wanted him to do may not be for want of trying, stressing that ‘’the President can be very casual sometimes in speaking and jovial particularly’’. He noted that people that ‘’people have failed to understand that in him’’.
Not many people were surprised when he disclosed that he was ‘’persuaded and pressured to run in the 2015 general elections in the first instance’’. He had said that in spite of the fact he was persuaded and pressured to run for the country’s Presidency, he had kept to his electioneering Campaign promises of delivering on major projects.
According to him, the country is currently generating 13,000 megawatts of power from both Hydro and thermal power stations, describing it as ‘’remarkable’’. He may have gladdened the heart of Nigerians when h said the target is to generate between 20,000 megawatts and 30 megawatts, of power before the Administration hands over to the in-coming government.
An elated Presidential Aide had said that ‘’Buhari has given his best and when the time is up, some other person will take over’’. There is no gain saying the fact that what Nigeria needed now was how to utilize the available power generation in the country. The latest data from the Electricity Generation Companies, showed that unutilised power between 2019 and 2021, was hovering between, 3,742.43 megawatts and 2,117.86 megawatts respectively.
Prhaps, this may have nformed why Garba had urged Nigerians to stop criticizing the Buhari Administration’s performance on the nation’s power sector and endeavor ‘’to put the necessary measures in place to fully utilize the 13,000 megawatts of electricity that is currently available in the country instead of wasting it’’ .
Recall that the Nigerian President had said that ‘’if the country could get its technology right, all that is needed is to get are the panels which all over the place , noting that it will cut down the cost on transmission and the likelihood of sabotaging the lines, will over.
At present, the Transmission of Nigeria, TCN, is 100% owned by the government which was said to have been inherited from the previous government in what the retired Army General said ‘’they call discos’’. He was emphatic that the questions on what is the basis for the discos and who owns them remain unanswered’’.
Notwithstanding the set back, Garba, the Buhari Media and Publicity Aide had assured those that cares to listen that ‘’the President is determined to make the last push for major policies, infrastructure and projects that must be delivered between now and 2023.