By Dave Jacobson snr.
The trust of the innocent is the liar’s most useful tool’ –
It all began on 17th January 2024, when a friend forwarded to me an article published in a daily post newspaper ( an on-line newspaper) by one Ogaga Ariemu, titled; Frequent national grid collapse: Concerns mount over quality of TCN’s procurements.
That article was not the first that was written on TCN concerning its procurement process, but it was the first to show that there is a grand plan by some individuals to distract the progress being made by TCN.
Incidentally I received the newspaper while going through a copy of the September 2023 issue of the TCN news magazine which was given to me by a colleague I left in the system. I read in the magazine TCN plans to reconductor 132kv lines nationwide, deliveries of additional new transformers in about six regions, commissioning of new substations in various locations in the country
These individuals see nothing good in TCN, they don’t report the achievements being recorded through commissioning of new substations, stringing new lines or upgrading existing substations. And it seems both the writers and the originators of the story do not have or forgot to provide evidence that, all the system collapses being referred to are caused by TCN. For avoidance of doubt, there is no single hard evidence that TCN was responsible for system collapse despite its challenges. Yes, there are challenges, yes TCN loses transformers, breaker and other equipment from time to time but most open manage the situation.
The purveyors of disinformation prey on the vulnerability or partisan potential of recipients whom they hope to enlist as amplifiers and multipliers. In this way, they seek to animate us into becoming conduits of their messages by exploiting our propensities to share information for a variety of reasons. A particular danger is that ‘fake news’ in this sense is usually free – meaning that people who cannot afford to pay for quality journalism, or who lack access to independent public service news media, are especially vulnerable to both disinformation and misinformation.
As a former staff of TCN and indeed a stakeholder in the Nigerian Supply industry, I find it duty bound to start responding to the talebearing’s on TCN by these mischief makers. There was no single report by the cartels on TCN that was balance according to the rules of journalism.
I understand that these allegations may have caused concern and anxiety among my colleagues and those that do not understand that, the stories are true lies and other Nigerians outside the sector. I am taking steps to therefore, ensure that the truth from another side is presented as effectively as possible. I am committed to maintaining open and honest communication to the misled and right the wrongs of the mischief makers.
I want to emphasize that TCN has always conducted itself with the highest level of professionalism and integrity and always try to mitigate any behaviour that is inappropriate or unethical, and it committed to upholding these values in all aspects of its operations as we know it.
This response is aimed at addressing the ill motives, the irrationality and lack of credibility of the procedures, tools and mediums being used by the mischief makers, to factually diffused the stories and unmasks the individuals and entities behind the mask. I intend to treat the constraints one after the other and illustrate them with what was submitted by the writers
There are four major players in Nigerian Energy Supply Industry (NESI) today, namely Generation, Transmission, Distribution and the Regulatory commission as a subset. These segmented fractions constitute whole, known as NESI. The NESI is system, and each fraction of the system is not only important but necessary for the survival and smooth operation of the system. The mystery is that, this complain and the wrong analysis of conjoining loss of transformer with procurement process is not originating from the NESI fractions but from men behind the masks of media cartels of misinformation.
From the time the cartel and the men behind the masks started their campaign of calumny against TCN or its executive management, all these segmented fractions of the whole exhibit weakness in the discharge of their duties, sometimes at similar scale level with TCN, but why only TCN is being attacked every now and then? Why is it that, all mainstream and accepted credible media houses are not being used, why is it that there always no balance of reporting from these medias? The answers to the questions above are always missing in the reports on TCN by the cartel. And these are the answers that raise suspicion in many Nigerians minds.
Those of us that are keen to sustain the legacies we left behind in TCN, know that today, DisCos and other stakeholders owe TCN billions of naira and the regulator of the system does nothing about it. We know that the regulatory commission and the former central bank governor brought and entity that took over all the responsibilities but few of the market operator and eclipsed all participants from their business accounts. That entity collects it share 100 percent and all other stakeholders share the leftover. DisCos complained until they complained no more, and surprisingly, the writers on TCN look the other way.
The Electricity regulatory commission invented service based terrif, but today no consumer knows whether he is permanently in band A, B or C or even D or E. Customers bands are changed at will and the commission care less to supervise and monitor, as a result, Nigerians pay what they are not supposed to. This national in outlook power sector endemic is also buried under the carpet and not worth discussing or writing on but only when Boko haram or vandals shut TCN lines and cause fire at the substation is a news to the writers. They hunt for effects on TCN infrastructure but as for the cause of the effect nobody should know.
The partial activation of Power Purchase agreements of the legacy generates caused more problem that solution to NESI but the writers on TCN did not write on that, they denied Nigerians that important information, may be because some sponsors of their articles were responsible for the unpopular.
The biggest of them all from this segment of NESI, is lack of gas to generate electricity from time to time. With an energy mix of 80 percent gas, all those responsible can only watch, leaving the pressure and stress of managing the system to the gas generators and TCN. The writers under scrutiny do not care to find out what happen to the gas supply agreements and the gas transportation agreements signed to that effect and who is responsible for regulating and enforce the agreements. Which one is more susceptible to collapse acute shortage of gas in a gas producing country like Nigeria or lapses in the procurement process.
On another side of the segment, the writers do not know any lapses on procurement or the segment’s role in system collapse or they assume people do not know so they rob Peter to pay Paul. And since TCN is the Peter they have interest to destroy, they rob it of its efforts and pay Paul, their payers with disinformation like the one under scrutiny. Transformers on the other side of NESI are solid and are not lost to fires and other fault of high magnitude as treated by the writers. The writers forget that most customers complaints are on the other segments not on TCN. Complaints on feeder lines being down for months, poles collapses, lack of metering system and many more. The writers do not know or pretend to show that these problems do not cause system collapse or their procurement processes are transparent only that of TCN is not.
Procedure followed or claimed to have been followed for the disinformation violates all standards for quality journalism which complies with professional standards and ethics. The fact that, despite the numerous numbers of TCN staff all over the country, the writers choose to contact an ex staff of NEMSA revealed the they ill motives and present clearly poor information research and balancing and sloppy verification.
It is not very clear what the article seeks, particularly at this point in time of policy transition, is not necessarily to convince the public to believe that its content is true, but to impact on agenda setting (on what people think is important) and to muddy the informational waters in order to weaken rationality factors in people’s judgement of development being made in TCN. One deducts, therefore that, the men behind the masks and responsible for this disinformation against TCN will make this method a series, producing muddy articles on TCN every other month until the achieve their goals.
For the benefit of Mr Ariemu Ogaga and others that are being used by the mischief makers, all the main segments afore mentioned can cause system collapse, in fact, TCN may be the least of them all. For you to come out and present to Nigerians only TCN shows poor knowledge of the causes and sources of system collapse. It further shows your lack professionalism and laziness in research before you publish your teleguided stories.
Balancing stories is one of the main pillars of journalism please ensure that, that is at least done in the next edition your collaborators are given you. There is a very good reason that you are being used. If I were still in TCN I would certainly have advised for litigation.
Profession Emily Bell opined that “Making sure news is accurate, being accountable for it if it is not accurate, being transparent about the source of stories and information, standing up to governments, pressure groups, commercial interests, the police, if they intimidate, threaten or censor you. Protecting your sources against arrest and disclosure. Knowing when you have a strong enough public interest defense to break the law and being prepared to go to jail to defend your story and sources. Knowing when it is unethical to publish something. Balancing individual, (entity’s) rights to privacy with the broader right of the public interest.
Mr. Aremu Ogaga, despite freedom of expression, news still has to be accurate and fair, but it is as important for the readers, listeners and viewers to see how the news is produced, where the information comes from, and how it works. The emergence of news is as important, as the delivering of the news itself.
The articles on TCN are though not professionally written, negatively sensationalizing that exaggerates for effect, and hyper-partisan selection of facts at the expense of fairness.
The next response is on why the mischief makers doing what they are doing on TCN and to finally unmask them within and outside TCN.
Dave Jacobson snr is
Concern TCN former staff