PRESIDENT Blue Diamond Logistics, China, Mr. Festus Mbisiogu has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to be focused on how to deliver good governance to Nigerians and shun praise singers.
Speaking an interview with Daily Sun, Mbisiogu commended Buhari’s courage in the fight against corruption. Furthermore, he noted that only steady power supply can enhance diversification of the economy and create employment for jobless Nigerians. However, he condemned the 45 per cent increase of electricity tariff by government.
What is your assessment of the present administration?
President Muhammadu Buhari is doing what most world leaders cannot do. He is bold, fearless and uncompromising in his actions and decisions so far, especially in the fight against corruption. Those of us in the Diaspora are proud of Buhari. During his campaign, we threw our weights behind him, because we knew that Nigeria needs to be liberated from corruption, which is our bane.
Today in China, most corrupt people have been thrown into jail, but here if any corrupt person is arrested, members of his or her tribe will begin to defend him or her.
Today, in some states, the governors, who took over in those places, met empty treasuries and inherited huge debts from their predecessors. One example is Benue State.
Many have expressed fear that some people in this government are not transparent?
I am not in the right position to judge those Mr. President selected to help him drive the change mantra. One thing is certain; a new sheriff is in town. You must be honest to work with him. So, let’s keep an eye on them and by this time next year, we can assess the performance of Buhari’s team.
You once said that Nigeria over dependence on oil was dangerous, what is the implication of the continuous fall in oil price?
I saw the dwindling revenue as a result of fall in oil price and I warned the last administration, in several interviews I granted to both print and electronic media, including your paper. I told former President Goodluck Jonathan to give steady power supply priority attention, because it is the only way the country can be industrialised. Even though that administration reformed the power sector through privatisation, yet, I expected them to go further and ensure that the electricity companies that were issued licences provided uninterrupted power supply. From my findings, there are things these companies are not telling us why they are unable to provide steady power supply to Nigerians three years after taking over from Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
I am calling on Buhari to revisit the privatisation process of PHCN and ascertain the reason these electricity companies cannot not perform. I have repeatedly warned that the nation is sitting on a time bomb due to erratic power supply. We cannot depend on oil out of the numerous mineral resources the nation is endowed with, hence with the drop in oil price, Nigeria is in economic mess. It is time we shifted attention to agriculture
In spite of erratic power supply, government has increased electricity tariff by 45 per cent, what is your take?
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola was wrong to say that Nigerians should pay up to 45 per cent for electricity they did not use. To me, it is a political language. I insist that if we must pay more for electricity, there must be improvement in power supply. That will motivate Nigerians to pay more. Government cannot convince the masses to pay more first for electricity before it can guarantee constant power supply. If light is steady, Nigerians will pay above what government is asking for.
What does Buhari’s silence over the matter, in spite of the protest by organised labour, portend?
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has the right to protest increase in electricity tariff. Where will an average Nigerian worker get extra money to pay for the electricity he did not use, when some states cannot pay salaries? Most states owe a backlog of salary arrears. For instance, the Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose said recently that he cannot employ additional workers, because his overhead cost is more than the income of the state.
In spite of the many trips by President Buhari, foreign investors are still not coming
Oil funded 80 per cent of last year’s budget while it contributed 13 per cent in this year’s budget. If you put together the revenue government hopes to generate, it won’t be up to 4 trillion hence they have to look for 2.4 trillion to fund this year’s budget. So, how can investors come? The answer is steady power supply. Mind you, Nigerians were not prepared for a rise in dollar. We must as a matter of urgency diversify the economy and create conducive environment for local content to thrive. And the sector that can guarantee enabling environment for investment is power, because 80 per cent of every economy is driven by steady power supply.
Buhari must learn from Jonathan’s mistakes by paying attention to two key sectors, power and agriculture if the change he promised Nigerians must happen. He must run away from praise singers and sycophants who deceived Jonathan. People around Buhari must let him know that if electricity is steady, insecurity can be tackled by mounting CCTV cameras in public places and major streets to reduce crime and terrorism.
I also made it clear that uninterrupted electricity supply will motivate entrepreneurs to set up factories and industries in different parts of the country. So many factors must come to play before one can decide to invest in the country and they include, if I buy machines where is electricity to power them?