Fashola And Abdication of Ministerial Duty

Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN)

At a recent meeting of stakeholders in the power sector, Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), was widely reported to have absolved the Federal Government of any responsibility for the current poor state of power supply in the country. Fashola was quoted to have said: “If you don’t have electricity, it is not the Federal Government’s problem, take the matter to the people who are operating the power sector, generation and distribution companies. “There are problems without a doubt and we must deal with them. But let me remind you, all of the assets that the Ministry of Power used to control power have been sold by the last administration before I came. And so, if you don’t have power, it is not the government’s problem. Let us be honest.”
To be honest with Minister Fashola, we find his statement shocking. We also find the honourable minister’s stance doubly appalling because he is a lawyer and a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN) who is aware of the constitutional responsibility of government at all levels in the area of citizens’ welfare, including regular power supply.
Minister Fashola’s statement amounts to an unconstitutional, hence illegal, abdication of duty, which can only be traced to a growing apprehension that the current Federal administration might not have accomplish much in the power sector in nearly four years of its life as the 2019 General Elections approaches.
Minister Fashola’s recourse to the worn warren of blaming the last federal administration, which appears to be the favourite pastime of officials of this government, is lame and untenable because government is a continuum. In any case, we are aware that between 2005 and 2015, previous administrations built no fewer than 10 gas-fired power generation plants across the country, among other significant interventions to improve the state of affairs in the power sector, under the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) executed by the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC). A simple google search would avail any honest researcher on these facts.
It is untrue that “all assets that the Ministry of Power used to control power have been sold by the last administration.” What Minister Fashola ingeniously referred to here is only a partial divestment of government equities in the generation and distribution ends of the power chain, which in any case fetched good returns on investment (RoI). To be sure, government continues to retain shares in the power sector and is in fact still in charge of transmission – which is the weakest link in the power delivering chain today- through the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).
This administration’s past claims of credit for alleged improvement in the power situation, frequent public assertions that it is investing billions of dollars in the power sector and its regulatory oversight functions through such government agencies like the Electricity Regulatory Commission of Nigeria (ERCN) makes Minister Fashola’s rhetoric sloppy sophistry.
Rather than derelict on his official duties and shirk his ministerial responsibilities, Minister Fashola should get cracking on the job and deliver within the limited time still available for this administration in its first term in office, or take the path of honour by sending his resignation letter to President Muhammadu Buhari today.

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