US has ‘strategic interest’ in Nigeria’s power sector – Ambassador

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

23 August, 2011, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The United States of America says it has a commitment and interest in ensuring that it is part of the unfolding development in Nigeria’s power sector.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Power made available to our correspondent in Abuja, the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Terence Mcculley dropped this hint on Tuesday when he led the American Ambassador for Nuclear non-Proliferation, Ms Bonnie Jenkins on a visit to the Minister of Power, Professor Bart Nnaji.

Mr. Mcculley stressed that US has “serious strategic interest” in investing in the sector with Prof. Nnaji at the helm but requested the Minister to address the endemic corruption in the sector as well as insist that American investors enjoyed level playing conditions when they showed up.

The US envoy noted that the US active participation in the energy sector was critical because as strategic partner in tackling global challenges especially in the Sub Saharan Africa, US would be happy to assist in harnessing the country’s enormous ingredients of growth and development.

The Ambassador then conveyed the satisfaction of the U.S government to President Goodluck Jonathan on the appointment of Prof. Nnaji for the power sector and expressed their confidence that he would not fail if given the necessary support he would need to restore sanity to the sector.

In his response, Minister Nnaji thanked the American government for the confidence reposed on him and announced that Nigeria has reached an irreversible point in her effort to break the jinx that plagued the sector and stunted national growth for several decades now.

Nnaji told the Ambassador that it was in response to the systemic corruption in the sector that President Goodluck Jonathan designed the Power Roadmap to divest government participation in areas where the private sector has managerial advantage to undertake.

The Minister assured the Envoy that Nigeria would provide the veritable level playing ground not just for the US investors but for all genuine investors who want to invest in the Nigerian economy.

Professor Nnaji said Nigeria would no longer renege on Agreements it legally entered into and observed that sanctity of contracts is a sign of trust and confidence in a nation adding that “we cannot continue to renege on Agreements rampantly again and expect investors to accept it or laugh it off”.

On corruption, Professor Nnaji emphasized that the holistic privatization of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) was meant to checkmate interference of corruption in the value chain noting that private sector management of arteries of national economies is a hallmark of globalization.

Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mr. Isah Bello Sali has reminded the workers of the danger inherent in not sharpening their skills for efficient and effective service delivery necessary to accomplish the task of transforming the power sector.

Addressing a pool of officers on grade levels 07 – 10 at a Workshop in the Ministry today, Mr. Sali who was represented by the Director, Special Duties in his office, Mr. Athelbert Muoka, insisted that they must be change agents to provide system support for the power sector reform.

The Permanent Secretary said the SERVICOM UNIT of the Ministry organized the workshop to drive home the need for honest, fair and transparent attitude in their day-to-day dispensation of service.

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