07 February 2017, Abuja – The Federal Government will today (Tuesday) in Abuja inaugurate new commissioners for the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, but without a chairman for the agency.
Since the tenure of the former commissioners of NERC and its immediate past chairman expired in December 2015, the commission has been run by an acting chief executive officer, Dr. Tony Akah, without the assistance of commissioners as prescribed by law.
The Electric Power Sector Reform Act, 2005 stipulates that NERC shall have seven full time commissioners appointed by the President, subject to confirmation by the Senate.
It also stated that the President would designate one of the commissioners as chairman, who would be the chief executive and accounting officer of the commission.
But in October 2016, the chairman-designate of NERC, Prof. Akintunde Akinwande, rejected his appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari, as he did not show up for screening at the Senate, while the other commissioner-nominees were screened.
Since then, nobody has been screened by the Senate to head the power regulatory agency.
Notwithstanding the non-appointment and confirmation of a chairman for the commission, the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, in its weekly publication obtained in Abuja on Monday, announced that the NERC commissioners would be inaugurated by the minister today (Tuesday).
“The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission commissioners will be inaugurated by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, on Tuesday, February 7, 2017,” the ministry stated.
It noted that the inauguration would take place at the Power House of the ministry, but was silent on the non-existence of a chairman-designate for the agency.
Officials of the ministry, however, told our correspondent that the six commissioners, who were earlier screened by the Senate, would be inaugurated by the minister, adding that the inauguration might not produce a substantive chairman for the commission.
“The absence of commissioners at NERC has not helped matters and that is why the minister wants to inaugurate them pending when someone is cleared to stand in as chairman. Although some people see this as absurd because they’ve been saying that having commissioners without a head is like having an army without a commanding officer,” an official, who spoke to our correspondent in confidence, said.