The Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) was established by the Federal Military Government in the mid-1980s with a broad mandate and vision to be the nation’s flagship energy, in all ramifications, public policy making, planning, monitoring and advisory entity. This mandate covers conventional and non-conventional (renewable) energy sources and technologies across the board. ECN also represents Nigeria in some major international energy fora like the 167-member countries and the European Union (EU), the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) governing board, which is a lead global intergovernmental agency for energy transformation that serves as the principal platform for international cooperation, support, countries in their energy transition, and provides state of the art data and analyses on technology, innovation, policy, finance and investments.
ECN was at its inception placed in the Presidency with the President, Commander-in Chief as its chairman and a director–general/chief executive officer (DG/CEO) appointed by the president for the organisation. However, over the years, due to some policy changes, the oversight of the Commission was moved to the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation under the watch of the minister.
With expiration of the second term tenure of the erstwhile DG/CEO of the Commission, Professor E.J. Bala, President Bola Tinubu appointed Dr. Abdullahi Mustapha as the director-general and chief executive officer of the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN). As reported by the spokesperson of the president, Ajuri Ngalale on Monday October 23, 2023, “Dr. Mustapha has over a decade of experience in the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission with significant experience in the energy and space technology sectors. He recently obtained his doctorate degree in mechanical engineering with a focus on renewable energy, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship as a research associate in the School of Engineering at the prestigious University of Manchester, England.”
Part of the message accompanying the announcement says that “Tinubu expects the new ECN chief executive to “make a positive impact on his administration’s intensive push to diversify the nation’s energy sources in a synergised fashion across the government towards the ultimate aim of industrialising every part of the country with every citizen emancipated from the shackles of energy poverty.”
The appointment is timely as the country is facing serious energy policy challenges that have not been handled in a synergised fashion across the numerous stakeholders in Nigeria’s energy supply industry (NESI). Hence, there are high expectations from the various energy stakeholders that the appointment of Abdullahi Mustapha as the DG/CEO of ECN is a game changer in the scheme of things in NESI. This can be seen from what he unveiled as his strategic ‘Vision and Mission’ for the Commission during his tenure when he immediately assumed office at the ECN headquarters in Abuja.
The new ECN director general also stated that he intends to collaborate with stakeholders in the energy sector across the board including at the subnational level; hitherto, not the practice. Hence, “with the new legislation in place, there is room for a larger scope of operation and cooperation with the states for deepened economic development built on diversified and robust energy sources.”
He also emphasised that: “The ECN will also work within the newly enacted Electricity Act of 2023 regarding the implementation of specific provisions for renewable energy in the power sector – Mainstreaming renewable energy resources and technologies both at the national and subnational levels in the national energy mix.”
Other crucial issue areas he touched upon is the welfare of the staff of the Commission; he promised to not only improve upon staff welfare but also ensure its professionalisation and putting it in line with industry and international standards.
Furthermore, he promised to uplift the status and standards of its six specialised Research and Development and Innovation centres co-located in six federal universities across the six geopolitical zones of the country so that they fulfil the mission and vision of the Renewed Hope Agenda of Mr. President in the energy sector. The six centres are the flagship Centre of Excellence of the Commission for basic and applied research, innovation and development, focusing on energy transition, climate change and energy poverty eradication.
Some of the expectations in his vision for the Commission include uplifting the Commission from its current underrated status back to its past glories as the nation’s premier and enviable flagship energy policy and planning and coordination centre of excellence; institutional and organisational strengthening and capacity building for it to perform its statutory roles and functions; assisting in the actualization of the Energy Transition Plan; national energy security policies; improve and innovate in the areas of Research and Development funding; local and international partnership initiatives in the energy sector; and the coordination of conventional fossil energy and Renewable and Alternative Energy Policy framework in the Nigerian energy supply industry and architecture, among other initiatives he is bringing along to the Commission.
One important expectation of the repositioning strategy is that the Commission should be made a data-driven one with emphasis on collecting, storing, processing and analysing relevant data and information for policy and decision making (including private investment) across the board – making it an internationally reckoned entity in the mould of the US Energy Information Administration (US EIA) – i.e., collects, analyses, and disseminates independent and impartial energy information to promote sound policymaking, efficient markets, and public understanding of energy and its interaction with the economy and the environment.