Buhari’s Government And The Sudden “Change” In Power And Fuel Supply
It has been one week the acclaimed change agent President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office as the president of most populous black nation in the world, Nigeria.
Before his takeover, Buhari, who was one time Head of State in Nigeria’s inglorious military era was associated with the change mantra, which differentiated him from his main rival in the build up to the 2015 presidential election, the then President Goodluck Jonathan. While some who are against his coming to power mocked him with the change buzzword, the fans of the Katstina –born retired army general eulogised him with the mantra.
It was not unusual to hear such words from Buhari’s antagonists as “everything must change in Nigeria the day Buhari takes over, or else; from May 29, electricity supply in Nigeria must not blink, and from day one of Buhari’s administration, Nigeria must be placed in “Eldorado.”
But Buhari supporters, while agreeing that change is urgently needed, said Buhari’s kind of change would not be meteoric but gradual. Even Buhari, knowing the huge expectations from Nigerians, later came out to say that he was not a miracle worker, noting that he would bring the desired positive change gradually.
But a week after assuming office, how far has the Buhari ‘s administration fared in balancing the expectations and the realities of the day? Few happenings in the week have gone to explain how far Buhari has the change mantra.
The week before Buhari’s assumption of office, electricity supply dropped by 2,000mega watts (Mws) to about 1000 Mws. The electricity market dwindled in supply as 18 out of over 20 power plants were shut down following strike action embarked by staff of the government-owned Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC).
The strike began as a mere tussle for supremacy over who should manage the oil mining license (OML) 42, which holds significant gas reserves and straddles the vital gas pipeline linking the nation’s power plants. The striking workers did not only shut operations at OML 42, they also shut operations of the vital Trans Forcados Pipeline (TFP) which passes the critically needed associated gas for processing and distribution to the nation’s plethora of thermal power plants.
The period was characterised by no gas supply owing to an oil workers’ strike and shortage of water for the hydro power plants.
Following the development, former Minister of Power Chinedu Nebo, explained that the drop in power supply was inevitable, since up to 70 percent of generation was coming from gas-fired stations, pending the harvest of electricity from the work already executed by the government and private sector investors on new hydro-power plants and other renewable plants.
Amidst such explanation, Nigerians groaned, as homes and offices were devoid of electricity supply. But generators that used to act as alternatives were put on hold. Reason? Perennial fuel scarcity has grounded activities across the country.
And if you had concluded that Nigeria was on standstill, you would not be wrong. Even unborn children knew that something fundamental was wrong with the country.
But whether it was by providence or by a stroke of luck, the challenges were resolved before the swearing-in of Buhari, and within few days of his assumption of power, power supply bounced back to over 3,000 Mws, just enough for Nigeria to have life again. Some Lagos residents who spoke to The Guardian said they have started noticing the increase, as there has been regular power supply in their homes and offices.
It is not only in the area of power supply Nigerians will like to measure the success or failure of Buhari. Fuel supply and availability will no doubt form the prism posterity shall use to judge the man generally viewed as incorruptible.
Few days to his inauguration, fuel scarcity nearly brought the country to her kneels. Petroleum marketers, fearing that Buhari’s administration may not recognise any transaction they made with the Federal Government under the then leadership Dr Goodluck Jonathan, went on strike to demand for payment of over N200 billion debt. The federal Government kicked, but the petroleum marketers remained unperturbed. And the masses grumbled. But noting changed, not until Mr Ifeanyi Ubah of Capital Oil announced his plan to flood the market with petroleum product.
While some praised the oil magnate for the “humanitarian” move, others said Ubah was just playing to the gallery. But the message resonated and the striking petroleum marketers were forced to call off their strike few hours after Ubah’s theatrical announcement.
But the market never gets flooded, not even with Buhari’s coming. Petroleum products have only trickled in. The result has been long queues in few filling stations. To most Nigerians, the situation is a clear departure from the days of petroleum supply. But whether this is actually the type of change Buhari promised millions of Nigerians who voted for him is a matter Nigerians are not yet keen to discuss.
But to Buhari’s credit, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) bounced back to life from its lackluster status. For the first time in many years, EFCC has the nerves to detain the former Governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako on Monday for a case of fraud. Nyako, who was impeached on July 16, 2014, was declared wanted by the anti-graft agency on February 4, for alleged criminal conspiracy, stealing, abuse of office and money laundering.
While the commission was still celebrating its audacity in Nyako’s case, the anti-graft commission, in the middle of the week, quizzed former governor of Borno State, Modu Sheriff. More cases are not doubt, expected to follow.
Irrespective of Buhari’s scorecard in the last seven days, the following months will show whether these happenings are snippets of the change Buhari asked Nigerians to brace for or not.