Nnaji’s exit ’ll enhance power sector reform -FG •Says new minister coming •Nnaji has vested interest, says Labour; celebrates his exit
THE Federal Government, on Wednesday, justified the resignation of Professor Barth Nnaji as the Minister of Power, saying that it was to enhance the credibility of the ongoing power sector privatisation process.
Fielding questions from State House correspondents after the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in Abuja, the Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku, who gave this position, however, regretted that the former minister who he observed had worked hard for the power sector reform would not be available for its completion.
While conceding that the former minister’s resignation was over conflict of interest, Mr Maku assured that his exit from the ministry would not hamper the smooth implementation of the privatisation programme of the power sector.
He explained that coming at a time that the country was working hard to attract foreign investors, Professor Nnaji’s resignation would reassure such investors all over the world and reinforce their confidence in the process.
According to him, “he resigned to give credibility to the process of privatisation of the power sector. It will not hamper the process but reassure investors all over the world. This is the intention of the minister following conflict of interest. It will reinforce confidence in the process.”
Observing that governance was a continuous process, the minister remarked that Professor Nnaji had already set targets for the power sector whose implementation he said had already led to improvement in power supply in the country, adding that more improvement in the sector would manifest by the end of the year.
“We would have loved that Professor Nnaji who has put in a lot of effort would have been the one to complete the process but government is an institution with processes in place. So, his resignation will not affect the process,” Mr Maku stated.
While hoping that the former minister would still contribute his quota to the sector as a private citizen, Mr Maku expressed the determination of President Goodluck Jonathan to implement the power reform in the country with the vigorous pursuit of the power sector road map.
In a related development, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have accused the former Minister of Power of having vested interest in the privatisation of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and the ongoing transaction.
The President of NLC, Comrade Abdulwahed Omar and the TUC President General, Comrade Peter Esele, therefore, declared on Wednesday that the exit of Professor Nnaji was a good one and would pave the way for a better and more transparent transaction.
Comrades Omar and Esele were speaking at the occasion of the centenary celebration and commissioning of the national secretariat of the Nigeria Civil Service Union (NCSU) Centenary House, in Abuja.
The NLC President, Comrade Omar said: “Is it really a resignation? I will rather prefer to call it the exit of the former Minister of Power. That is very good and like we said earlier, it will now pave way for a better and more transparent transaction. What we are saying is now manifesting that if you are going into any discussion or negotiation or leading any negotiation with vested interest, it is not going to work. Now it is becoming clearer what we in the labour movement are saying.
Comrade Esele, the TUC President said: “I think the Minister of Power has to take the honourable route, which is to resign and I think we should also commend him for resigning because if you have conflict of interests, that is the best thing to do.
Meanwhile, rather than being sympathetic, workers in the employ of the PHCN in Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company were, on Wednesday, rejoicing mood, over the resignation of Professor Nnaji as Minister of Power.
The workers, at their head office on Ring Road, Ibadan, were excited about Nnaji’s exit from the power ministry, saying it was God who sacked him.
They were said to have quickly levied themselves and raised enough money to prepare an appeasement feast of bean cake to celebrate the exit of a man they saw as a stumbling block to their careers and means of livelihood.
At the Orita Area office of the PHCN, in Ibadan, it was the same party mood that the workers were in when Nigerian Tribune got to the premises.
The workers also went spiritual, as they entered into a prayer session which began at about 9:00 a.m and lasted about an hour.
Members of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), Jebba, Hydro Electric branch, Kwara State, also rejoiced over the resignation of the Minister of Power.
The workers, who danced round the company premises, also carried placards that read: ‘The god of PHCN is in action,” “‘Congratulations, PHCN workers, Nnaji has been sacked.’” “The enemy of PHCN has been sacked.” “The man that said that his people will not enjoy the fruits of their labour has been dropped. The man who wanted to put our fate in his hands has resigned.”
Meanwhile, the Presidency, on Wednesday, denied the report doing the rounds that President Jonathan had personally taken charge of the Ministry of Power, following Tuesday's resignation of Professor Nnaji.
The president took charge in the last dispensation where he only appointed a minister of state, Nuhu Wya.
Dr Abati, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, to the president, who refuted the report, assured that a new appointment would be duly announced.
According to him, the news was "not true, it was a mere speculation and the figment of the imagination of those spreading it."
The presidential spokesman said once a new Minister of Power is named, the appointment would be duly announced.
The substantive Minister of Power, Professsor Nnaji, on Tuesday, resigned his appointment from the cabinet.
The resignation, which was with immediate effect according to a source, might not be unconnected with the conflict of interest that was said to have arisen during the privatisation process of companies under the PHCN.
President Jonathan, according to his media aide, Dr Abati, accepted the resignation.
The president, in a terse statement issued by Abati, thanked Professor Nnaji for his services to the nation under the present administration and wished him well in his future endeavours.Share
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