Sunday, October 17, 2021

Disquiet in Nigeria’s key power agency as Buhari appoints accountant to replace PhD holder in Electrical Engineering

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Jaafar Jaafar
Jaafar Jaafar is a graduate of Mass Communication from Bayero University, Kano. He was a reporter at Daily Trust, an assistant editor at Premium Times and now the editor-in-chief of Daily Nigerian.
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By Abdulaziz Salisu

In what was described as “shocking and improper” by power sector stakeholders, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the appointment Usman Mohammed as the managing director of Transmission Company of Nigeria to replace Abubakar Atiku, an engineer and career civil servant holding a doctorate degree in Electrical Engineering.

APPOINTED: Usman Gur Mohammed

Mr Mohammed, a chartered accountant, joined the African Development Bank, AfDB, in 2009, and held various portfolios including the head of financial control, power utility policy and transformation of the bank.

On the other hand, Mr Atiku was appointed as the managing director of TCN for a period of four years in June 2014.

EDGED OUT: Engr Abubakar Atiku Tambuwal, PhD

Sources said within this period, TCN under Mr Atiku has improved power evacuation to 6,500 megawatts from the previous 5,500mw, just as Transmission Loss Factor, TLF, dropped from 8.05 per cent to 7.82 per cent by January 2017.

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Feelers in the industry picked hole in the appointment/secondment of Mr Mohammed, saying the world best practice is to employ expert consultants to understudy an organization and restructure it in line with policies and directives of government.

Speaking to DAILY NIGERIAN on the issue, an expert, Yohanna Joel, said when consultants restructure an organisation in tune with government policies, the management will then be brought to make the reorganisation take pragmatic inroad.

“Upon successful completion of the exercise, a new management can then be constituted to executive the mandate of the restructured organization.

“Please note that the restructuring of TCN was one of the mandates of Manitoba management to split the functions of TCN into two Business units of TSP and ISO in line with the two licenses issued by the regulator of the industry, NERC. This had already been approved by the then board of TCN and already in operation.

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“It is really shocking and improper that the president was misguided to take this decision,” he said.

Another stakeholder who spoke on the condition of anonymity said an accountant does not have technical expertise to run the TCN, saying the president’s decision was akin to appointing horticulturist to run a teaching hospital.

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“Now that the seconded staff of AfDB is doubling also as CEO and running the day to day management of TCN, is it yet another management contract in disguise? If so, can a one-man squad, an accountant for that matter, provide the needed technical expertise to run TCN? This is just like appointing a horticulturist to head a teaching hospital.

“If the motive of the seconded CEO is to oversee the funds utilization of his parent organization the AfDB with $150m and maybe serving as a guarantee for the proposed additional $200m from AfDB, then what of other lenders such as the World Bank with a facility in TCN of more than $700m, AFD with $170m, JICA with $200m and Eurobond with $135m? Does it mean all of them will provide their staff to manage TCN or to see to the utilization of their funds? World best practice is to set up a project management or implementation unit to oversee the funds as per projects earmarked for the loan,” he explained.

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The Minister for Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, is expected to appear before a joint committee of the National Assembly on power on February 6 to justify the sudden dissolution of the management of the TCN before the end of its mandate.

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