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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Buhari’s First Hundred Days And Improved Power


It would not be anecdotal to say that power generation has improved in the country since the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari on May 29, 2015. This development is worth noting as we assess President Buhari’s first hundred days in office.

The facts speak for themselves. The day he was inaugurated, the total power generated in the country was 3,155 megawatts. It is 4,032.2 megawatts on the day I am writing this, August 21, 2015. Also, a new peak generation of 4,545 megawatts was recorded on July 7, 2015, about six weeks into the Buhari administration.
Prior to this latest milestone, the last peak generation, which the relevant government agency publicised as “a new energy peak of 97,749.11 megawatt hours per hour which translates into over 4,000 megawatt hours per hour.” was attained on December 4, 2012, under the Jonathan administration. That it would take just about six weeks into the Buhari presidency to break the almost-three-year-old record of peak generation is indicative of the rapid transformation we can expect if we support the Buhari government’s programme in power and other sectors.
This improvement can be seen in an even clearer perspective when we consider what obtained before President Buhari’s inauguration. In the week before the inauguration, the nation had experienced perhaps the most acute power shortage in recent times. And one wondered if we were about to experience a prolonged power crisis with its many problems such as the immobilisation of industrial production and the deepening of social distress.
In that week, the amount of power generated from the nation’s pool of power stations had declined almost steadily from 2,395.35 megawatts on May 22, 2015, to an all-time low value of 172 megawatts on May 26, 2015. As if the Buhari effect had transformed the situation, we saw things begin to look up from the day of the inauguration on which the generated power was
3,155 megawatts. The situation has continued to improve despite hiccups in the process, as reflected in the already attained new peak generation and the generally improved power availability we are currently experiencing nationwide.
Questions have arisen as to how President Buhari could have achieved this even as he seems not to have done anything in the power sector. (One may also ask why his predecessors who may be regarded as having done a lot in the sector did not achieve such feat.) The answer is what I have called the Buhari effect. And the explanation of how the Buhari effect has worked in this context is that those responsible for generating and supplying power in our country are now aware that a new sheriff is in town, and have become alive to their responsibilities in a different way from what obtained before the new sheriff’s arrival. They are now aware that, unlike what obtained before he took charge, there would be serious consequences for dereliction of duty and reciprocal reward for hard work. So they are inspired to work more efficiently even with the existing tools, resulting in the general improvement in power generation, transmission and distribution.
So while giving credit to such workers for evolving a new work ethic and adjusting to the demands of improved efficiency in so short a time, it is important also to recognise the Buhari effect as a critical factor in this positive development. In other words, the Buhari personality has inspired a new way of doing things in the power sector, where the new-fangled fear of the consequences of underproductivity has become the beginning of the wisdom of realising that only doing one’s job well can justify one’s desire to keep it.
Also, the improvement being witnessed in the power sector is a vindication of those who say that the style and personality of a leader can make a lot of difference in a nation’s fortunes. Huge resources deployed under an ineffective leader may well be a waste, plundered or frittered away by people who fear no adverse consequences for doing so, being aware of the leader’s lack of political or moral will to act against them. By contrast, lesser resources deployed under an effective leader may produce better results, since such a leader is likely to supervise the use of such resources better for optimum results, as we are currently witnessing in the power sector.
President Buhari may not have a magic wand. And Nigeria cannot be transformed miraculously as suggested by the use of “a magic wand”. It must be by hard work involving both the leaders and the citizenry. But what we have witnessed so far, especially in the power sector, suggests that, as a leader, President Buhari has the force of personality necessary to stimulate lasting change, which is a good starting point. However, for the best result, we Nigerians must show the willingness to have that personality work for us, to tap its resources, as it were, and use them for the much needed transformation of our country.
On the other hand, President Buhari must demonstrate the willingness to work with the right types of Nigerians to deliver on his promise of change, which should manifest as such improvement we are now witnessing in the power sector replicated in other sectors, resulting in improvement in our economy and living standard.
Of course he fought hard, standing election thrice to become President only to succeed in his fourth attempt. While such resilience signifies a strong passion to serve, what I mean by the willingness to work with the right types of Nigerians is of a different order. I mean that, having become President, which with its huge responsibilities puts him in a more challenging position than a candidate for an election, President Buhari must now seek to work with the right people with whom he would create a synergy with his change-inspiring personality in order to deliver good governance across the board while ensuring that the improvement already recorded in various sectors including power are not reversed.

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