• Monday, May 20, 2024
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BusinessDay

Power, corruption top priorities for next govt, say Nigerians

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As Nigeria and the world earnestly await the official results of  last weekend’s Presidential election, attention is gradually shifting away from the politics and back to the country’s economic realities.

Whoever is elected to preside over the nation for the next four years, has the clear task of fixing power and fighting corruption in Africa’s largest economy, badly hit by falling oil prices since June 2014.

Preliminary results of an online poll conducted by BusinessDay over the weekend showed 46 percent of respondents were emphatic on  “fix power”, when asked “What is your No. 1 Task for Mr. President-elect?”

Extensive reforms in the power sector have been initiated under the Jonathan administration, including the privatisation of generation and distribution companies and a more recent power sector intervention facility.

The Presidency boasts of increasing generation capacity from 2,800MW in 2011 to 4,527MW at the end of 2014, but this has since dropped to about 3,000MW in March 2015, according to daily power generation data from the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

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If elected, opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari targets to “generate, transmit and distribute at least 20,000 MW of electricity within four years” and achieve “24/7 uninterrupted power supply within ten years”, as contained in the manifesto of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Respondents (38 percent) also expect the President-elect to “fight corruption”, as Nigeria currently ranks 136th out of 175 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2014.

Perception in some quarters is that the current administration has paid lip service to the fight against corruption.

Recent clamours for the government to publish a forensic audit report, charging the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) of $1.48 billion unremitted monies has been met with no action.

Wire reports have quoted the APC candidate Muhammadu Buhari, as saying he will not probe past corrupt Nigerian leaders – if elected.

This contradicts Buhari’s anti-corruption scorecard as a military leader, and may be one of the most defining moments of his administration if elected.

Some respondents believe fixing power is linked to fighting corruption, suggesting that at the heart of Nigeria’s age-long energy deficit is crippling corruption.

“I was tempted to choose fix power as the number one task (for Mr. President-elect) but I realise power is not a quick-win” says Dele, a banker and economist.

“If you deal with criminals then power will start working too. So fight corruption.”

Seventy-nine percent of respondents chose “Fight Corruption”; “Fix Power”; and “Solve Insecurity” as the top three tasks for incumbent President Jonathan if he wins another four year term or major contender General Muhammadu Buhari, if he wins.

Akin-Olusoji Akinyele