“People are saying you people said you will do [by December 2014] 6,000MW, yes! We have the capacity standing..” Professor Chinedu Nebo, Minister of Finance, PUNCH, January 28, 2015, p 38.
That statement by the Minister was tucked into a report which screamed, POWER GENERATION DROPPED BY 2,042MW. The story went on to state that “Peak generation for the country as of Tuesday was out at 3,865MW, while 3,331MW was the figure for the off-peak generation.” Meanwhile, the first month of the year has come to an end and the nation is still receiving less than 4,000MW steadily, despite the lies by the PDP and the Minister’s widening credibility gap.
Professor Nebo simply cannot stop making promises which will not be redeemed; he can also not keep his mouth shut. And, when he opens it, another futile promise drops. What sort of a Minister is this? Hundreds of Ministers have graced the offices of the Federal Government since Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Prime Minister of Nigeria, formed his cabinet in 1959. None had made as many promises as Nebo and none had been so devoid of remorse when he fails to keep them.
What sort of man is this? On the occasion in reference, he was up to his old tricks again. According to him, “by 2016, we expect to get up to 10,000MW; and, by 2017, to get 12,500MW’. Who in his right senses will believe this man anymore? Who will believe a man who had failed each and every time he promised? Yet trillions of naira worth of investment is riding on this; not to talk of the future of Nigeria.
While the man’s credibility has been eroded to nothing, he can nevertheless be counted upon to ensure that everything that will work against the interest of Nigerians is implemented. Last week, Nebo was at his worst when he proclaimed as follows: “Less than 50 per cent of Nigerians are metred. How do you collect your money? The commercial losses are huge and unfortunately somebody has to pay for it. And unfortunately again, it is those who are paying that are penalized to pay for those who are not paying [underlining mine].”
Since the Minister has not denied making that statement, then it must be assumed that he was correctly quoted. And, if so, it stands as the most irresponsible statement by a public official ever in history. The plain meaning of the unfortunate (to use Nebo’s words) declaration can be reduced to LEGALISED ROBBERY by the Federal Government of Nigeria and its unfortunate (to use the word again) Minister who would have been better left in the classroom.
Like several million Nigerians, honest and responsible citizens, who pay their bills monthly, I deeply resent being told by a thoroughly misguided Minister that we must be forced to pay somebody else’s bills simply because both the Government and the stupid owners of DISCOs, who invested in the sector, started off without asking the question “How do you collect your money?”
While still on the issue of resentment, the Minister needs to be told that he had made a statement which might form the basis of a class action suit involving several thousand customers of Eko Electricity Distribution Company and me and the Company. We would not only demand for restitution but for punitive damages for willful embezzlement of our hard earned money. To be quite candid, it is remarkable that a Professor could not understand the full implications of what he said.
The Professor had also inadvertently raised another option available to those of us who have been responsible. We can also stop being so responsible, consume power and pass the bill to others to pay. Even the village idiot can easily see that if enough people select that option, the DISCOs will be liquidated in no time at all. The banks, which also financed their investment will also be in deeper trouble than declining crude oil prices had already brought upon them. In the end, the entire privatization exercise will crumble – as it is bound to do anyway.