Dear Editor, Kindly permit me a space in your enviable national paper to contribute to issues of national importance as it relates to the failures in Power at the Olorunshogo plant.
I read with dismay the comments credited to the CEO of the Olorunshogo Power station in Ogun state that the lack of manuals written in English is preventing proper operations of the facility and that five of the six generating units have packed up. My take to the CEO's statement and the general happenings right from the project conception to its eventually construction and handover is slightly different from most commentators. First, in my opinion the Nigerian new love for the Chinese and Indians manufactured goods will lead to doom for this country if something is not done. Recently, I have observed the Federal MDAs buying goods and services mainly from Chinese or Indian companies based on the argument that its cheaper buying from the these two than from UK, Europe or the US but this may not be the sole reason. In my opinion, there appear to some ulterior motive. The federal government needs to check why this new love is thriving so much because if the truth must be told, a lot of these procurements from China and India are fraudulent. Some of the companies are mainly setup to do business for Nigerian MDAs.
Even for services like training, you find MDAs going to certain unpopular service providers in the London, South Africa, etc. If you investigate further, these service providers are setup purposely for Nigerian MDAs. How then can this country move forward?
Now, regarding the Olorunshogo power station, I am amazed that the CEO was busy lamenting rather than addressing the issues. Did he the CEO not deem it wise to investigate what went wrong that Chinese manuals were handed over for a Plant installed in Nigeria. He should have constituted an investigation immediately as to:
Why manuals were written in Chinese for a plant installed in an English speaking country
Who were the project managers and was it lack of capacity or corruption that led to this?
As an electrical project engineer a few years back in the UK, I was faced severally with such, one case being a German firm that installed fast acting roller doors for a complex waste facility insisting on installing control panels at a level which was not appropriate in the UK. It was easy for me to get them to conform by referencing the contract documents and basic health and safety laws. Such should have been the case for a plant like Olorunshogo if the project engineer/manager had considered this issue seriously. The plant should never have been accepted during handover. Operating that plant with chinese manuals is in itself a high Health and Safety risk apart from the risk of losing the facility. The Operators of the facilities would be jailed in a more civilised society. Personally, I would fire the project managers!
Moving forward, Why did the CEO not recruit Nigerian Engineers who can read Chinese, do we not have any Nigerian Engineers who understand Chinese? if we don't then we might have to think twice considering our romance with "Chino-Indian" Contractors! May be we should start sending Nigerian Engineers to Chinese classes in preparation for more smart games from the Chinese. Would it not be cheaper to pay a little extra to translate the manuals than to allow the plant to go down?
Seriously, if President Jonathan wants to succeed in his power generation and overall transformation dream, he needs to have a High Impact Team (HIT) made of technically competent young persons who would be involved in the review of proposals made by parastatals with a view to ensuring that he the President understands if the MDAs proposals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound (SMART). Failures of this nature is akin to a National disgrace. The president needs to use this HIT:
Assist with reviewing the information submitted by MDAs and advise him if they are technically workable
Assist with highlighting major issues which the general public is interested in (As at now, most Govt officials lose touch with the people once appointed)
Assist with carrying out comparative performance analysis to enable him assess the performance of his appointed Ministers based on set objectives. Again for now, the President is depending solely on his ministers to give him information about MDA performance and way forward. Some of the information they give to him is not true. Ministers say anything to depending on where they are and who is asking.
etc, etc, etc
This High Impact Teams will work for President and focus mainly on areas dear to Mr President transformation agenda like on Power. This Team will be different from the political big men who work in front of Cameras and dine at the slightest opportunity.
Lewis Ekiyor MSc MIET, Sustainable Development Advocate, Abuja