Nigeria’s Power Minister, Babatunde Fashola, in an interview published by the Nation has attempted to correct perceived assumptions made about his role in the ministry.
“There was this impression that I was either being handicapped or too soft, or maybe the Distribution Companies (DisCos) should be punished and I think it is important that members of the public should know the true position of things.
“With a better understanding, you will understand that it is not that I’m handicapped or that I was being soft. It is really that under the private arrangement that we now have, there is only one regulator, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), nobody must disturb its work.
“This the body statutorily backed to set the standards and rules, fix prices, set tariff and sanction the DisCos, among others. Once the government has privatised, it becomes a regulated industry. So, just like we privatised banks, the regulator is now the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), or the Financial Regulatory Commission (FRC).
“Broadcasting, print and electronics have the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) as their regulator. Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) regulates telecoms. They have their ministers but you will not see the Minister of Finance going to remove a bank managing director or the Minister of Communication going to sanction a telco managing director.
“That is where we are today. And before sanctions are meted out, regulations are made. Even the TCN that is government-owned is subject to those regulations and the reason is important and we all know it.
“We all say we want investment, people won’t come and invest if we don’t play by the rules they are used to. In other countries, it is only the regulator. When last did you see the minister for energy in the UK or elsewhere getting involved? It is the regulators that do this work.