Buhari to shop for Ekpo’s replacement at NERC

ICPC-boss-Ekpo-NTAAmadi says no crisis, moves to stop transfer of high collection losses to consumers

Following the abrupt resignation of one of the Commissioners at the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), President Muhammadu Buhari may have started shopping for another professional to fill the position.

NERC’s management is made up a Chairman, Vice Chairman and 5 other commissioners all appointed by the President and confirmed by the National Assembly.

One of the 5 Commissioners, Eyo Ekpo, has sent his notice to resign as a Commissioner citing differences with his colleagues.

In a letter to President Buhari, Ekpo said his resignation would take effect from September.

However, there are indications that government may nominate an immediate replacement for Eyo instead of waiting for September when the resignation should take effect.

Ekpo was in March removed from the Tariff and Market Rates Division to head the Consumer Affairs Division.

NERC accused him, among other things, of misleading the Commission in the calculations for the Multi Year Tariff Order (MYTO), which lead to a controversial tariff increase for industrial users earlier in the year.

Following protests from the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and other industrial users and series of discussions by both parties, NERC reduced the tariff and affected an internal restructuring.
NERC says Ekpo’s resignation does not connote a crisis in the Commission.

NERC Chairman, Dr. Sam Amadi, who responded to the development in an interview, describe the resignation as a voluntary action.

He said: “The Electric Power Sector Reform Act allows a commissioner to resign his or her appointment anytime before the end of the tenure. Of course, there are many reasons someone may resign, ranging from health challenges to pursuit of other interests. The work of a regulator is very stressful especially in our case when we are fighting chronic supply shortage and very bad customer care. You are always on your feet and holding long meetings every day. It takes its toll on health.

“So, we can be charitable and say the Commissioner just gave notice that he would resign in September. People are wondering why a commissioner who has served for four and half years would resign only three months left in his tenure. And why give the notice the first working day of the new government? They think it may be a strategic move to secure another appointment before the new government has gone far. Whatsoever, it is not a crisis at all. The market is not affected, as he remains a commissioner until September. Before then, the government may have made a replacement. This is not a crisis, except someone decides to create a crisis from nothing. And that will be unfortunate for the country. This is a simple act of resignation which the Act contemplates that it can happen.”

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