Flashback: Energy commission spends N190m on DG’s Land Cruiser in 2024 despite widespread poverty

AT a time governments across the world are cutting the cost of governance, the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) is setting aside N190 million in the 2024 budget to purchase a Land Cruiser Jeep for its Director-General/Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Abdullahi Mustapha.

The commission is also budgeting N51.51 million for generator fuel and electricity despite its claim to “promote sustainable energy development in Nigeria through the production of strategic plans and coordination of national policies…”

It is also setting aside N260 million for 4 Hilux vehicles for project inspection and monitoring, putting the cost of power and the vehicles at N311.52 million.

The commission is supervised by the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Mr Uche Nnaji.

READ ALSO: Forget partisan politics, Nigeria’s 2024 budget is inflated, full of ambiguities

Dr Mustapha was appointed by President Bola Tinubu in October 2023 to replace Prof. Eli Bala as the director-general/chief executive officer of the commission.

The commission’s vision, which can be seen on its X (formerly Twitter) handle, is targeted at “adequate, reliable, cost-effective and sustainable energy supply for the nation’s economic and socio-political development.”

Questions have arisen as to what happened to the commission’s vehicle for the former CEO and those previously used for project inspection in the commission.

Three text messages sent to a number said to belong to the commission requesting an explanation were not replied.

Market prices are different

On Jiji.com, the price of a 2023 Toyota Land Cruiser Jeep is N160 million, according to Economy Post‘s checks. The 2022 model costs N135 million.

On autocheck.com, the 2022 brand costs N108.015 million. Generally, prices of cars and vehicles vary according to their status, year of manufacture, country, among other variables.

Similarly, the Energy Commission of Nigeria plans to spend N260 million on 4 Hilux vehicles, which means N65 million for each. However, checks on Autocheck Africa shows that its 2023 model costs N56.515 million, while the 2022 and 2021 brands are sold at ₦55.015 million and ₦46.515 respectively.

READ ALSO: Inside the ‘dubious’ 2024 budget of Ministry of Youth Development

Jiji.com prices range from N49 million to N64 million. The agency did not specify whether it would buy new or used vehicles in the 2024 budget.

Why Energy Commission was set up

The Act establishing the Energy Commission of Nigeria charges it with the responsibility of strategically planning and coordinating “national policies in the field of energy in all its ramifications.”

According to the Act, the commission is to serve as a centre for gathering and disseminating information relating to national policy in the field of energy development, as well as a centre for solving any inter-related technical problems that could arise in the implementation of any policy relating to the field of energy.

It would also “advise the Government of the Federation or a State on questions relating to such aspects of energy as the Government of the Federation or a State may, from time to time, refer to it.”

It also has the responsibility to “prepare, after consultation with such agencies of government whose functions relate to the field of energy development or supply as the Commission considers appropriate, periodic master plans for the balanced and coordinated development of energy in Nigeria.”

The focus of this commission is generally to prepare, advise or recommend but not to implement. However, the commission is in the long line of the failing energy systems value chain in Nigeria.

Damning power data

About 86 million out of over 200 million Nigerians lived without electricity as at 2021, according to a 2023 report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). 

“As of 2021, the 20 countries with the largest access deficits accounted for 75 per cent of the global population without access. The countries with the largest number of people without access were Nigeria (86 million), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (76 million), and Ethiopia (55 million)”, the report said, as reported by Arise TV.

READ ALSO: Health ministry, agency budget N300m for retreat, N938m just to monitor health centres

Members of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) spent N25 billion on alternative power supply in 2014, N59 billion in 2015, N129.95 billion in 2016, N117.38 billion in 2017, N93.11 billion in 2018, and N61.38 billion in 2019, Economy Post earlier reported.

In 2020, cost of alternative power was N81.91 billion, falling to N71.22 billion in 2021 but rising to N144 billion in 2022. In the first half of 2023, cost of alternative power stood at N60.47 billion.

Manufacturers self-generate about 13,000 megawatts of electricity, according to MAN.

Apart from manufacturers, small businesses use generators to power their generators due to the irregular power supply from electricity distribution companies – a phenomenon that balloons cost of operations.

Analysts knock commission

Analysts told Economy Post that they were expecting the commission to use renewable energy in its office, given that one of its functions was to recommend the right energy mix for Africa’s most populous nation.

“The Energy Commission of Nigeria often complains of lack of funds. But the question I always ask is, what are they doing with the little they are given?” asked a Lagos-based energy expert, Dr Yakubu Adu.

“They want to use generators as an energy research agency. Why not demonstrate that alternative energy sources are working by using at least the renewable energy option? By doing what others do, are you not proving that you have no new ideas?” he asked.

Another energy analyst, Ms Chioma Ani, said the commission had failed to proffer solutions to Nigeria’s energy crisis, wondering where vehicles for the previous years were parked.

“Part of its job is to monitor the performance of the energy sector in the execution of government policies on energy. Is it doing that? Most manufacturers are sourcing their own energy and several homes in Nigeria don’t have electricity. This shows you that the commission is doing so little.

“Another question that should be asked by the government is this, where is the vehicle used by the commission’s former CEOs. Did they take them home as we see in government offices? This requires some investigation.”

However, a United Kingdom-based energy lecturer, Dr Olisa Nwagbo, said the commission should not take the blame alone.

READ ALSO: 2024 Budget: Agric research institutes to spend 65% allocation on salaries, allowances

“The Act establishing them says they should report to the president. But you can see where they are – in the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. This shows you there is a problem. Secondly, the funds are not sufficient. Third, their job is to work with others. So, everybody shares in the blame for the failure.”

He, however, said it was not justifiable for the commission to see the DG’s Land Cruiser as a priority, noting that there were several other things that should be done first.

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