The buildup of high-wire politics and maneuvers to restructure the super ministry of Woks, Power and Housing may have been kick-started at the upper chamber of the National Assembly. This is coming on the heels of the Senate’s resolution demanding the appointment of a separate substantive minister for the power ministry following a motion sponsored by Senator Mustapha Bukar (Katsina North) on Tuesday.
In justifying its position, Senator Bukar argued that the challenges of managing the power ministry are becoming too enormous and overwhelming for one person regardless of the person’s antecedents and track records. Bukar expressed worry at the challenges in managing power projects such as the 3,050 MW Mambilla Hydropower project, 700 MW Zungeru Hydropower project, 215 MW Kaduna Thermal Power project and the 50 MW Katsina Wind Power project, lamenting that the power sector is too important and sensitive to allow any form of inefficiency created by bureaucracy that will only stall projects.
“The Federal Ministry of Power, as currently constituted, does not have the required professional competence and resources to effectively execute these projects, hence they resort to engaging contractors and consultants for every project development activity,” the senator said. In a voice vote, the lawmakers urged President Buhari to immediately incorporate a Special Purpose Vehicle for the implementation of projects in the sector.
However, keen observers of developments in the power sector and in government generally opine that the lawmakers should not be trusted as the arguments being advanced may just be mere smokescreen. Analysts point out that some undercurrents not unconnected with the award of contracts and policy implementation supervised by the super-ministry of WPH, as well as the manner in which the minister, Babatunde Fasola has been handling things may not have gone down well with some lawmakers who feel that the he is too ‘independent’ and ‘uncooperative’. The lawmakers are only creating grounds for the appointment of their own pliable person to oversee the power ministry.
The power sector is presently witnessing very massive investment inflows through counterpart funding due to the great attention the government is giving the sector. Example is the recent USD 5.5 billion which is being targeted for the Mambilla hydro power dam. The lawmakers may actually be flying their demand as a condition for granting approval for the loan. However, the executive arm may be considering drafting in the former governor of Edo State Comrade Oshiomole as its candidate for the power ministry if the rift caused by the Senate’s demand degenerates.