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Joseph Oyeyani Makoju – 1948-2022

Joseph Oyeyani Makoju – 1948-2022

On Monday, April 11, 2022, the light dimmed for Joseph Oyeyani Makoju, former managing director of the defunct National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) and Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN). He was 73 years.

Better described as the power sector encyclopedia, his philosophy and belief in the sector were electrifying, thrilling, and enchanting.

To him, consumers’ willingness to pay for electricity is critical to ending the liquidity challenges that constitute a major drawback to the quest for an uninterrupted power supply in Nigeria.

In several fora, he espoused this theory by insisting that Nigerians must be willing to pay for the electricity they consume as that would encourage more investors into this critical industry.

According to Makoju, consumers must see the provision of electricity as a business and not a public utility or service.

The greatest tribute that can be paid to this remarkable Nigerian is for the Nigerian State to come into its own in the important area of the power sector

Makoju insisted that the business of electricity provision was not charity. “The power business is not a charity. It is a business. The perception of the power sector as a public service continues to make it challenging to operate,” he once said.

He also regularly emphasised the imperative of having competent and capable manpower to drive the power sector reform programme of the government of which he was a key policy formulator and policy enhancer.

Like every other critical sector of the economy, prompt and regular fulfilment of financial obligations is essential for efficient service delivery.

It is equally essential to the entire process of advancing the building of a robust power pool for the country. The absence of these issues is the bane of the industry today.

Unfortunately, his philosophy, passion, and a strong commitment to the growth and development of the power sector not just in Nigeria but the West African region eclipsed on that fateful Monday; leaving behind a vault that might be difficult to fill.

Little wonder his demise came as a shock to many, especially those that had contact with him.

As a revered administrator, entrepreneur and reformer, he left his indelible footprints in Nigeria’s political and economic environment. Both public and private benefited from his rich industry knowledge and experience.

Indeed, his sound administrative ingenuity and commitment to nation-building were felt when he served as chairman of the Technical Committee for privatisation of the power sector in Nigeria under former President Olusegun Obasanjo; special adviser (Electric Power) to former President Goodluck Jonathan, honorary adviser on Electric Power to President Muhammadu Buhari, chairman, Cement Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, and chairman, West African Power Pool Executive Board.

He was also a member of the Kogi State Economic Advisory Council, group managing director, Dangote Lafarge Cement Industries, and director, Geregu Power Plant in Kogi State.

The late power sector reformer was certainly a pillar in the Nigerian electricity sector.

Read also: Buyers of power infrastructure lack technical, financial competence – Nnaji

He built several power plants in Nigeria, including the building and commissioning of Geregu 1 and 2.

Born to school-teacher father on July 13, 1948, in Okene, Kogi State, he attended Saint John’s College Kaduna and the Federal Government College, Warri, Delta State. He later went on to study mechanical engineering at the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom, where he graduated with a first-class honours degree in 1972.

He also bagged a Master of Philosophy degree in mechanical engineering in 1974 from the same university.

Makoju was at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos, from 1989 to 1990. He holds a honorary doctor of science degree in engineering from the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Benue State.

And in recognition of his efforts and contributions to the advancement of the country, Makoju was in October 2000 honoured with the officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) award, and in 2011 with officer of the Order of the Niger by a grateful nation.

He is also the recipient of the National Grand Commander of the Special Order of Merit from the Republic of Niger.

Aptly described as one of the best in the power industry, Makoju’s death is not only a loss to his family but to Nigerians and the global business community. For years to come the legacies which he espoused and practised would endure in the annals of the current generation and those to come.

It is on this note that we are saying adieu to the man with the midas touch. However, the greatest tribute that can be paid to this remarkable Nigerian is for the Nigerian State to come into its own in the important area of the power sector.