Minister of Power Prof Barth Nnaji bite the dust yesterday as he resigned from the GEJ Government following his business interest in firms that are bidding for shares Power Plants set to be sold by the Government. Barth Nnaji has been in Government Long enough to know how things work but not long enough to know democracy in Nigeria today isn’t the same as it was 8 years ago. If this were the Obasanjo era, his competence and huge experience may have been enough for the president to damn all morals, ethics and complaints from opponents and critics and simply just retain him. But Nigerians are wiser now and are ever more interested in ensuring that the privatization process of government is open, fair and competitive.
Technocrats like Barth Nnaji should be ever more careful with the way the business of running a ministry or government agency is done in Nigeria of today. This is even more so when you consider the current president has shown that he will not stick out his neck for any member of his government or party who is found wanting, ask a certain Alhaji Yusuf Suleiman. Nnaji’s sack or resignation whichever came first, is punishment for an error of conclusion, relying on his retroactive admittance of interest in the privatization as an excuse. Even the earliest of novice in business circles knows that a conflict of interest is always a basis for a nullification of a deal, transaction or report in any sphere of our everyday world. He must have thought that by informing the president some weeks back, as he alluded, was enough disclosure on his part making him morally upright to participate in a process that he was appointed to midwife.
Sadly, the Labour movement in the power sector will claim victory and hope that all the impressive milestones achieved by him in the sector will be scuttled in their favour. That hope is misplaced to say the least as the success or failure of the power sector is not mutually exclusive to the success of the president himself. Goodluck Jonathan will be judged on his ability to improve power supply in Nigeria, a yardstick he cannot fail to underrate. His interest and their interest is in conflict and surely I don’t expect that he will make himself susceptible to a error so easy to overlook.