Can minister Abubakar make a difference? By Zayyad I. Muhammad



Managing the Nigerian power sector is a very difficult task. Nigerians and the outside world have their eyes on the sector. The performance of the sector is a standard of assessment of a government; a failure in the sector translates into the failure of the government. The sector is so broad that a year of successful efforts can be diluted by a 24-hour failure. For example, if the government builds power stations, transmission lines, motivates workforces; formulate excellent policies and programs within a year. A 24-hour lapse in the distribution sector – a sector not directly managed by the government – can erode all of these. Being a Minister of power is a big and a herculean task.

Put aside the inherent challenges in the power sector, the new Minister comes with a challenge of his own. His appointment was due to the apparent failure of his predecessor in achieving deliverables, this means hopes are high on the new minister. President Muhammdu Buhari sees Engineer Abubakar as someone who can make things happen, correct errors, and strengthen power generation, transmission, and distribution. Simply, President Buhari appointed Engineer Abubakar as Minister of Power to help the government completely achieve its goals in the power sector.

Does Engineer Abubakar have the capacity to deliver what Buhari and Nigerians expect of him? The Minister is coming into the power sector with an illustrious profile. He is a seasoned politician, a former minister of state for works and housing, a proven technocrat, including an accomplished engineer, a Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, a member of the Council of Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), and has the record of being the longest-serving deputy governor in Nigeria, – 10 and a half years as the deputy governor of Yobe state. These experiences will assist him in the ease of administration, and managing diverse people. The power sector may be new to him, but being a technocrat will assist him as well in putting things aright technically in the sector.

The Minister must have had some of these challenges in his mind when he said “Don’t look at me as the minister of power that I have come to make magic. No, I am not a magician. I am coming to add value to what you have already been doing. So let us work together in honesty and full commitment".

How will Abubakar achieve his target of adding value to a sector that is very complex?

Firstly, he must employ a reductionist approach. Each component of the sector must be administered as a whole; while putting the right people and strategy in the right place. Secondly, being a controversy-free person, the Minister will certainly avoid needless controversies in terms of dealing with heads of the parastatals under his ministry. Thirdly, the public must adequately know what is happening in his ministry – that is good publicity and public image management that is at par with the expectations of Nigerians. Fourthly, the distribution sector is very critical for the minister to achieve any success. As mentioned earlier, if the distribution segment fails, the entire sector fails. - Thus, having a dynamic plan for the efficiency of the distribution sector will be critical for the new minister.

Lastly, being a former Minister of state for works and housing, with over a decade of experience as a deputy governor, Engr. Abubakar has been actively involved in driving government policies and initiatives – he has gone through the mills, he is a round peg in a round hole in the ministry power. Nigerians hope he will not disappoint them.

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