30 December 2015, Abuja – One week after the tenure of the last seven commissioners of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, ended, the Presidency is yet to announce their successors. For now, Dr. Tony Akah, the most senior official, is acting as head of the commission.
The Daily Trust reports that the tenure of the commissioners, including the erstwhile Chairman, Dr. Sam Amadi and his vice, Muhammad Lawal Bello, ended last Tuesday December 22 after spending five years. They were the second set of commissioners.
The Presidency did not present any list of successors to the National Assembly last Tuesday as they left for the holiday, implying that the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (EPSR) 2005, especially section 35 which states that new appointments or re-appointments should be made before the expiration of the existing tenure, was not adhered to.
Speaking to our reporter in confidence yesterday, sources at NERC said while the Presidency is yet to present a formal list, a senior official and General Manager, Government & Consumer Affairs, Mr Akah, is heading the commission in acting capacity till Mr President makes fresh appointments.
The Daily Trust learnt that under the new headship, officials of NERC convened a management meeting yesterday on how to move the commission forward in a way the gap created would not affect its regulatory affairs. It is the second time an administrator would oversee NERC’s activities before a board is reconstituted. In 2009 when the pioneer commissioners were removed over alleged corruption, an administrator was appointed and he led the commission for 22 months, even when there was no provision for that in the Act.
Meanwhile, experts and some consumer groups in the power sector have tasked the federal government on being transparent and mindful in appointing the new commissioners.
Among those who spoke on this is a veteran transmission engineer. He said, “This time the government should nominate as NERC Commissioners people who are really power-oriented in the sector; people who can move this nation forward and not just people who would go and lobby for such positions.”
The official, who has spent over 30 years in the sector, detested the scenarios that occurred during the past administration, especially on their poor technical know-how.
For fresh commissioners now, the earliest time they might be screened by the Senate is mid-January 2016. This gap, an official in the ministry (Power) said, may require the most senior staff of the Commission to hold forth.
*Simon Echewofun Sunday – Daily Trust