Challenges facing the power sector may remained unresolved in 2017 unless President Muhammadu Buhari urgently address the lingering issues surrounding the appointment of a new chairman and commissioners for Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), power sector industry watchers say.
They say government also needs to approve the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading plc (NBET) Bond Issue to address the liquidity challenges in the power sector, or else the sector will find it difficult to overcome its current challenges in 2017.
To them, there is urgent need for the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to tackle these issues limiting the key sector from operating at its utmost even in the face of the economic challenges witnessed in 2016.
Ayodele Oni, a specialist in international energy investment law and policy, while listing five major decisions President Buhari should take before the end of the first quarter of 2017 to address the challenges in the power sector, suggests that he would like the Presidency to allow for direct government intervention in the power market.
According to Oni, “I believe that the President should introduce incentives for the exploration of alternative generating methods that avoid crude and other fossil fuels, including nuclear energy.”
Oni says the government needs to liberalise gas prices and cover any shortfall for domestic demand with a subsidy, saying, “I would like for the government to take steps towards encouraging, through more tangible steps than lip-service, private refineries while ridding the country of illegal refineries.”
On his part, Wumi Iledare, director of Emerald Energy Institute, University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, maintains that the President must as a matter of urgency establish or reconstitute an advisory energy council as this will boost the confidence of investors in the industry.
To Iledare, Nigeria must have a substantive minister of petroleum resources and a special adviser on petroleum matter, saying the President should make appointment to lead energy agencies non-partisan.
“Equally related is an independent office of the chief economic adviser beyond what the vice president’s office is doing. These are two separate institutions.
It is about an office not a person. This is an important institution, perhaps more important than Secretary General of the Federation, and as important as the office of National Security Adviser in my opinion,” he says.