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Minister Adebayo Adelabu’s ‘Penkelemesi’ at power ministry

If we are to take a sample opinion among Nigerians on who among President Tinubu’s ministers scores low in terms of performance, no doubt Chief…

If we are to take a sample opinion among Nigerians on who among President Tinubu’s ministers scores low in terms of performance, no doubt Chief Adebayo Adelabu the minister of Power will probably be up there at the top.

Under Adelabu, the national grid has made a habit of collapsing more frequently than ever, leaving the whole country in darkness for days. If we are to calculate the total number of days that the entire country had been thrown into darkness within the almost one year that the minister has been in office it will amount to one-third of the time.   

Also, under minister Adelabu, the national electricity generation has remained within the 5000 to 7000 megawatts that he met; he has added nothing to this figure and, in some cases, power generation has actually dropped. To be sure, some of the challenges in the sector predate his appointment but Nigerians will readily agree he has added more to the problems that he met.

Nigerians will tell you without hesitation that the power sector is the most problematic of all the sectors in the country and this is borne out by empirical facts. Everybody knows that the Nigerian power sector is a byword for corruption and untrammeled inefficiency. It is a cesspit of dysfunction and unfulfilled expectations. It is so bad that power distribution offices and virtually all power agencies rely and run on power generating plants and other alternative sources of power supply other than the national grid.

About two decades ago, the government, weary of the deficiencies of this sector and its having to continuously finance its operations without tangible results, decided to privatise and commercialise it. Yet instead of improving performance, the sector even became worse. And the worst cut of all it is the Nigerian people that have been bearing the brunt of all these glaring deficiencies with ever-rising tariffs and amid epileptic supply and extortion by staff of the power distribution companies.

This is the ministry that minister Adebayo Adelabu superintends.  

You would think for somebody who heads this peculiar mess of a ministry, he would take his time on assumption, to do a root and branch review of its operations before taking any action. No; for minister Adelabu his attention is not directed at the well-known corruption and dysfunction in the sector. Right from his inception as minister, his attention has been one-track-minded; piling more misery and hardship on the poor, hapless Nigerian consumers to pay for power services that are virtually non-existent. In essence, Nigerians should pay more for darkness to corrupt inefficient power companies.    

When Minister Adelabu recently announced the increase in electricity tariffs with his categorisation of prices for consumers, he must have thought he had pulled a rabbit out of a hat. But on close examination, what he introduced was an apartheid system of power distribution and pricing which would reserve the little power supply in the country to high-net-worth businesses and persons living the rest of Nigerians with little or no power supply. Ironically, the cost that will be incurred by the high-end consumers under what he called ‘’Band A’’ will be transferred to the great majority of Nigerians in the form of increased cost of services and goods.

When summoned by the Senate to explain this disingenuous measure of his and to tell him of the suffering and hardships being experienced by Nigerians, minister Adelabu was a study in arrogance, insensitivity and hubris. He even added a threat to the senators in his presentations. He stated that if the oppressive, hare-brained and outrageously inebriated electricity tariff increase was not allowed to stand, the nation was going to be thrown into darkness for three months.

So, what is new about power supply in this country minister Adelabu. As I write, many Nigerian communities in the urban areas have been experiencing lack of power supply for upward of three months. To threaten Nigerians that they will experience total blackout for three months if they do not comply with the new extortionate and unjustifiable tariff hike in the power sector is infra dig, to say the least.

As a public officer, it smacks of irresponsibility and insensitivity for the minister to address the Senate and by extension, the great Nigerian people so contemptuously on a matter that requires consultation. Is raising tariffs the only solution the minister can think of to solve the myriad of issues in the power sector?

I am sure that among the business establishments that will enjoy uninterrupted power supply under the so-called ‘’Band A’’ arrangements is the minister’s ‘’Penkelemesi Hotel’’ in Ibadan.

The expression ‘’Penkelemesi’’ which is a Yorubanization of the phrase ‘’peculiar mess’’ was popularised ironically by the minister’s grandfather, the First Republic political figure Adegoke Adelabu, which aptly fits the minster’s current situation in the power ministry. With all the intractable issues in the power sector and his incompetent handling of it, minister Adelabu is well and truly in a peculiar mess or ‘’Penkelemesi’’ as his late venerable grandfather, of blessed memory, will say under such circumstances in his celebrated political heydays.

When the minister named the hotel in that popular phrase in which he is apparently proud of, he would not have known that it would one day come to reflect poorly on him as is happening today in the power ministry under him.

By his unfortunate pronouncements and actions, Adelabu may not have been aware of the admonition that, if you are in a hole do not dig further. For what it’s worth, I will recommend to him that in his current state of ‘’penkelemesi’’ at the power ministry, it is better not to add more ‘’penkelemesi’’ than currently obtains.