The Trial of Brother Fashola by Yinka Odumakin

Opinion

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I saw it coming and I warned shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari assigned portfolios to Ministers and made the former Lagos governor “Oloye Meta”(triple chief). I was guest of Seun Okinbaloye on Channels TV where he asked me to x-ray the new ministers and their portfolios.

I had expressed pity for Fashola instead of congratulations as I was fully persuaded that he was traveling the Bola Ige road in a worse fashion. Remember how Olusegun Obasanjo made Chief Bola Ige his Power Minister in 1999 and our Uncle against all he had written on the contradictions of Nigeria got so excited and was making all manner of unrealistic promises to the country. He even went to the extent of literally vowing to do what Jesus Christ refused to do when he was tested of the devil. Jesus who was coming out of a 40-day “biribiri” (dry fast) was told by the devil to turn stone into bread if indeed he was the son of God. Though endowed with the power to do so, our Lord rebuffed the request and did not succumb to the devil temptation.

But Chief Ige said he would turn stone into bread as far as Nigeria power sector is concerned. Many of us literally held our hearts in our hands. It is said that the most difficult pupil to teach is the one who is not aware of his ignorance. A gifted man of Ige’s intellectual prowess who had written tones of verses on “The Trouble With Nigeria” was expected to be a bit more measured in the face of the set up by Ebora of Owuland to resist going on such a self-subversion. But it was too late. He eventually wobbled and fumbled on the impossible task until he was removed by Obasanjo.

Shoe week

On November 4, 2014, Obasanjo gave a milder verdict on Ige than he did years earlier when he said “If you will remember, when I came back in 1999, my first Minister of Power was late Bola Ige. I won’t say Bola didn’t know what he was doing, and he said publicly that he would fix the power problems in six months.

“After one year, Bola Ige couldn’t fathom what was wrong with power. It was riddled with corruption.”

Earlier on the eve of his departure from office in 2007, the loquacious former President had dismissed Ige as a man who would have to phone a friend if asked to show his left hand from his right as far as electricity issues were concerned.

So, when Fashola who has a lot in common with Ige came on board, it was like a déjà vu. Like Ige, he is a former governor, a lawyer and Senior Advocate to boot. Only that he does not posses the garb of Ige and his intellectual fecundity on Nigeria.

Though Fashola was a bit measured than Ige when he presented his roadmap in December 2015, he was still optimistic all the same.

“There are a number of issues that beset our Gas sector such as the environmental issue and the availability of gas infrastructure such as pipelines and the issue of pricing which are all the responsibility of other Ministries.

Subject to budgetary approvals and financing, the ministry of petroleum indicates their ability to build certain critical pipelines to transport gas to the power plants that will add another 2,000 mw to our stock of power within 12-15 months.

Of course, the appropriate pricing of gas and it’s impact on tarriff is another matter entirely. If the local market was offering $1.30 per unit of gas (which has been reviewed recently to $3:30 I believe) and the international market is offering about $4:00 and above, your guess is as good as mine where supply will be available and where it will be short.

Transmission Network
Today, the amount of power that is available is slightly larger than the capacity which the Transmission network can support.
Let me again take a little time to explain what the transmission lines are and what TCN does.

The transmission lines are what we locally call “High Tension Wires” which run on high towers across our country over land and over water.

As was stated earlier, they transport power and in that sense they are not different from a bus transporter who has to carry passengers. Where we are today is that the passengers, in this case, the power being generated, are more than the number of seats on the bus, and there are more passengers coming.

So we will do what any serious passenger operator must do. Get additional buses to carry the waiting passengers and plan to buy bigger buses for the additional passengers that are on the way, that is the extra power that is coming.”

This is why the apparent failure in the power sector today is not being linked much to his roadmap but some of the reckless comments he had made in the past.

For instance while commissioning the Lekki IPP in March 2015 he boasted:

“Let the Eko DISCOs sign a contract with me, giving part of their concessioning to the
state government. In about six to eight months, there will be power in all homes
in Lagos State,” Fashola said.
He added, “So, let no one say that he has no money to deliver power for the entire
country. This is the limit to which the law allows us to do, but we have done this to
make a statement that power can be generated. So, when they come with lies
that power is impossible, you can tell them that we have power here; we make
it possible”.
While marking his 2,600 days in office as Lagos governor on July 2014, Fashola made the following comments:

“Yes I agree with you that it is possible to generate electricity and to make sure that everybody in this country has electricity. I agree with you it is simple. What we have done in Lagos within the areas where we are constrained show that it can be done. But you know the only way that you and I will have electricity in this country will be to vote out the PDP.”

It’s now one year that PDP has been voted out of power and Fashola will soon be clocking six months in office and the only remarkable thing we have seen so far is that electricity situation has worsened with 0 megawatts for four hours last Thursday.

Fashola has been quiet of recent. Let’s hope he is cooking something to be “actualized” soon otherwise it may be “another one bites the dust” in the power crisis in Nigeria which solution lies more in first changing the structures of the county than rhetorical blabbing.Fashola

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