Redeeming the Time to Avoid a Post Coronavirus Energy and Economic Crisis

Prof. Wumi Iledare


-By Prof. Wumi Iledare

Pragmatically plausible but need to get head-hunters seeking out the best for the oil, gas, and power sector management, more so the power sector. But as I have emphasised earlier in many fora, if the best qualification to have in Nigeria remains MKM and appointments in nearly all levels in the energy sector, private or public are driven reward, patronage and sentiments, then, solving the energy crisis with economic depression looms!

The energy sector cannot deliver effectively to fuel Nigeria’s economy without using the skillful professionals in the ministries, agencies and private firms in the energy sector. You don’t even need to hire new skills, per se, Nigeria has competent skills in place, yes, the 20/80 rule can apply. Assigned your best devoid of the illegal geopolitical structure Nigeria uses as cover in recent times.

Reaction to the Adoption of Oronsaye’s and Looming Economic Crisis after Corona Virus:

President Mohammadu Buhari needs to do beyond just adopting Oronsaye report on rationalizing, merging or eliminating Agencies.

Here are Some Suggestions:

President Buhari needs to use more competent hands irrespective of political persuasions (CPC, AD, AC, nPDP) or personal allegiances, than before. The optic glaringly speaks to the facts as stated. He needs to not overtly control access to meet those who are interested in the Nigeria project holistically in the energy sector! Use all Mr. President!

The president needs a competent and professional petroleum and energy advisor devoid of politics (INA). He also needs an economic advisor that the public has confidence in like the Alukos, Soludos, Aboyades, Garbas as was the case in years past.

Nigeria is moving in the direction of Venezuela with its economic populism in my opinion. Trump talking to President Buhari is inconsequential.  The former is looking to rescue his political death. Economic populism is dangerous when resources are thin and not use effectively. Yugoslavia is not Nigeria’s portion but the country needs beware. There is a wolf at the door.  It is called energy crisis post Coronavirus!

But this need an honest few and particularly in the energy sector to turn things around.  One is talking about energy business investors, not buy and sell traders. The later have no understanding of the fact that the power industry requires massive investments with a payout period that is not “today”

I hasten to opine as well that the oil and gas sector is the glue that keeps Nigeria project together.  So, a failure of the oil sector post corona must be averted. Venezuela offers a perfect lesson. Economic populism drove Venezuela to its abysmal status.  And despite their homogeneity, the foundation of the country was shaken. Now is Nigeria with its high degree of heterogeneity.

Going forward to avoid post coronavirus crisis, an optimal strategy begins now with regulatory dissolution of petroleum pricing authority.  Deregulation cannot just be by an executive presidential order or ministerial newspaper pronouncements. It must be supported by the National Assembly (NASS) amendment of Petroleum Act and/or perhaps a total dissolution of the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory (PPPRA)  Act and Petroleum Equalization Fund (PEF) to send a signal that the end to subsidy era is gone.  The existence of PEF and PPPRA is antithetic to downstream liberalisation and deregulation.

Next to PPPRA, PEF is also Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF). They constitute administrative overburden to the petroleum sector. When last did you see an advert for employment into these agencies? Yet, employees are hired, even if temporary hired. Why? The reason is obvious, juicy agencies with no significant value added to the economy. Yet, the compensations in these agencies of the Ministry of Petroleum are significantly higher than those of the staff of the Ministry and are comparable to NNPC structure? Prebendaries at work!

Next is putting Energy Commission out of the Ministry of Science and Technology.  It does not belong there and it needs Commissioners like Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC). And I mean service oriented professional commissioners appointed to serve and not be served with Nigeria thin resources. I have not seen a country where public servants tend to forget they are hired to serve and not to be served like Nigeria.  And I have been privileged to travel the world.

Next is the National Planning Commission. It does not belong to any ministry in my opinion. It is supposed to coordinate the planning division of every ministry headed by the Vice President (VP) as chairman. It is supposed to have Commissioners in charge of each Macroeconomic sectors. There is a planning Commission act and to the best of my knowledge it has not been dissolved by NASS. The planning commission is to be independent of the MoF if the VP is to head it! Otherwise dissolve the Act.

Certainly, Nigeria must keep hope alive because we know what to do but for the prebendaries governance (prebendalism) rooted in patronage and sentiments! Just follow the rules of law in governance and leverage on your Diaspora resources- skillful, experienced and brilliant Nigerians, with abundance of wealth. South Korea did it. Ghana is doing it and Indian. Remember when Indians used to come to Nigeria for survival and as teachers.

What went wrong, Nigeria? But Nigeria is resilience and can easily overcome the post Coronavirus Pandemic.

Nigeria hope is rooted in the faith of our fathers. That hope shall not disappoint. The second stanza of our national anthem says it well. We just need to live in accordance to its wordings.

“Oh God of creation, direct our noble cause. Guide our leaders right, help our youths the truth to know.

In love and honesty to grow and living just and true.

Great lofty heights attain.

To build a nation where peace and justice shall reign.” So, shall it be!

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