The word power means different things to different people. In politics power is the ultimate. When you have it you are on top of the world. You decide for the rest of your fellow politicians. However, inappropriate use or wanting to hold on to it for longer than neccessary also leads to down fall. You can ask IBB when he stepped aside as a military president or OBJ when third term plan did not work or even in the current dispensation Turai Yar'Adua as she continues to battle on behalf of her husband.
Also, power in Nigeria has a lot to do with electricity. NEPA......never expect power always or NEP PLC...never expect power please light candle. However both political power and electric power have a lot in common ie financial power and the way it is acquired. It is evident that this has ultimately become the bane of all our problems in Nigeria because of insincerity, lack of integrity and above all inneficient and corrupt practices.
So when Ag President Jonathan decided that he will handle the power portfolio when he reconstituted the cabinet, in a lighter mood a few things came to my mind. What does he want to do with power during this tempting period? Remember Senator Mark has already told us this is a tempting period. Power is very tempting too. We have been told by the PDP chairman Ogbulafor that Jonathan is not an ambitious man. So what does he want power for? But as Julius Caesar said..."Ambition should be made of sterner stuff"
On a serious note, the power sector requires real atttention and may be just may be that is the reason why he has decided to do it himself as a tough and intelligent guy. My concern is that must Jonathan handle it? Are there no tested Nigerians inside and outside the country who have the requisite experience to handle the ministry and report to him? How do we check if the minster for power who is the Acting President is doing his work well? Who will check him and how do we hold him responsible since he is the most powerful man now?
I may be wrong but I am tempted to believe that this is because the power sector is one of the most obvious areas where Nigerians expect urgent and lasting action now. There will be so much money pumped into it. It could be a lucrative ministry for raising funds for the next item on the agenda as is being speculated. Of course I could be proved wrong. I only wish it will not just be a tool for political empowerment alone.
There are already speculations and insinuations that he is positioning himself to contest for the post of president in 2011. This is gaining ground fast. It will therefore be hard for Nigerians to believe Jonathan if he does not perform as power Minister when he comes out telling Nigerians about his plans for 2011 if that becomes true.
I am not against Jonathan contesting for the presidency in 2011. Infact as an Ijaw man I would very much like him to contest and win as it will give us Ijaws a sense of ownership of the country-Nigeria that we have so much stake in.
But he will be putting himself in the court of public opinion to judge his performance not just as an Acting President in this difficult and tempting time but also as a minster of power. He should remember that it is this same public opinion and outcry that has catapulted him to his present position.
During the era of Chief Obasanjo, OBJ promised to reform the energy sector and investments of up to $16 billion were made by the federal government during his eight years in office. This however did not lead to any tangible improvement. It is also known that since 2001 the World Bank has given approximately $300 million in development credits for the reform and privatisation of Nigeria's energy sector. All these have yielded nothing to see.
We are still waiting to know what is going on with all the probes and prosecutions about the rural electrification funds during Obasanjo's era. No one has asked Obasanjo questions and those responsible for the collosal fraud. The billions of Naira are yet to be recovered. That is Nigeria for you and me.
I know that Jonathan recently appologised for the government's inability to meet the 6000 megawatts target. A lot of people thought that was clever coming from the Vice president as he was then. Nobody will take appologies from him now as he becomes the power czar because appologies will not be enough any longer.
I am not a power expert but I think it is time to treat the power sector like the telecommunication sector. I understand there is a cabal fighting against the provision of regular power supply to the teeming masses of the country. My advice is that let the cabal have the opportunity to provide and supply electricity competitively as is being done in the telecoms sector. Then they will put their money where their mouth is and move away from generating sets. This is what obtains in developing countries like Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa where they have shifted from state-dominated systems to schemes allowing for a larger private sector role. Once there is power, we can then talk about regulating its provision.
If government wants to be responsible for generation then there needs to be speedy construction of mainly coal-fired plants rather than our dependence on hydro and gas powered plants if we must succeed. Even in the developed world this source of energy is being used. There are cleaner coal technologies that abound and we have the raw material.
With all the happenings in the country, it is easy to be accused of being a paranoid or a determinist and writing as if one is a conspiracy analyst who believes that people act purposively -- that they make conscious choices to employ means in order to arrive at goals. But it is obvious as Nigerians we have been decieved for long by those who claim to serve us.
If government wants to succeed, there must be a recognized severe punishment for anybody who derails the plan to the knowledge of all Nigerians
The overall challenge is whether Jonathan can change political empowerment into electrical empowerment for real. Whether he can do this in twelve months is another question. Even if his party chairman thinks he is not ambitious, this electric power issue is an ambition worth having. For according to Napaleon Bonapart "Great ambition is the passion of a great character" God help him.