Mixed reactions and criticisms are trailing the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, who sparked outrage after saying the federal government should not be blamed for poor electricity supply across the country.
According to PREMIUM TIMES, Fashola who made the declaration while speaking at the Nextier Power Dialogue on Wednesday night in Abuja, reportedly said that businessmen operating in the sector should be blamed for the poor state of electricity supply to Nigerians.
The minister argued that since the sector had been privatised, it was not the Nigerian government’s fault if citizens fail to enjoy to stable electricity supply. “There are problems without a doubt and we must deal with them,” the minister said.
“But let me remind you, all of the assets that he Ministry of Power used to control power were sold by the last administration before I came . And so if you don’ t have power , it is not the government ’s problem. Let us be honest,” he was quoted by the newspaper as saying.
“The people who are operating the power sector , generation and distribution are now privately owned companies . I am here because I am concerned . If your telephone is not working , it is not the minister of communication that you go to. Let us be very clear.”
The minister also denied that he once said a serious government would fix power sector challenges within six months and challenged participants at the dialogue and members of the public to produce any video where he made such a comment.
“I have the video of what I said and where I said it and I think it was in 2014 in the run -up to the election and I was in Lekki, Lagos,” Fashola added.
Fashols has however come under heavy criticism over the recent comment as many Nigerians took to their social media pages on Thursday to berate the minister’s comment.
Matt Etta, a twitter user said, “Imagine #Fashola saying his not to be blamed for the Power problem in #Nigeria because the previous administration privatized everything! Wait! Is it not then the job of the Power Ministry to keep them in checks?Why is he the Power Minister then? Infact let him blame me! Smh”.
Another user, Olamide Ogunduyile, wrote: “This is so irresponsible by #Fashola. Like, there are millions that don’t have power in Nigeria yet you make comments that put the blame on them. #DoBetter.”
Tweeting via @ArtytudeC, another twitter user made hilarious allusion to the game of football, claiming Mr Fashola scored an “own goal”.
“So #Fashola just scored a very damning own goal. Please someone should let him know that VAR cannot help him on this one,” the twitter user wrote.
Lanre Suraj, head of the Human and Environmental Development Agenda, HEDA, said on Friday that the minister gets carried away by arrogance of power.
“The minister seldom gets carried away with arrogance of office in expression,” Suraj said.
“Lagosians, especially civil servants have experiences of similar outburst. The minister should be excused by Nigerians. He is in the class of public office holders with mentality of superiority over citizens and deserves to be worshipped for occupying public office.”
Farooq Kperogi, public affairs commentator, also berated the minister in a tweet on his Twitter page. He wrote: “On July 12, 2014, Fashola said “d only way you & I’ll have electricity in this country is to vote out d PDP.” PDP was voted out in 2015 & he became Power Minister. After 4 years, he now says ‘It’s not FG’s problem if Nigerians lack electricity.’ That’s called a bait & switch scam.”