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Rural Electrification Agency: Undergoing Reforms while Making Strides

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We acknowledge the recent surge of publications discussing various petitions,
investigations, and allegations of corruption within the Rural Electrification
Agency (REA). Notably, a recent report by Premium Times highlights significant
changes within the Agency, prompted by media coverage, shedding light on
longstanding issues plaguing the organization.
We want to make it clear that Engineer Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad, the current
Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Agency, has been a steadfast leader who has tirelessly guided REA through challenging times, even in the face of internal, external pressures, and resistance to anti-corruption efforts.
While the Agency may have maintained silence, it was not due to a lack of information but rather a deliberate effort to focus on the right processes, personnel, and a culture that prioritizes doing what is right.
Over the past few months, we have collaborated closely with the Ministry,
National Assembly, anti-corruption agencies, and process organizations to initiate further reforms within REA, despite numerous obstacles. The Honourable Minister of Power, Chief Adebayo Adelabu directed a thorough committee review of the relevant issues that have influenced the Agency’s response to the alleged
situation.
The Agency can confirm that recent publications accurately reflect that some
members of staff have been redeployed, suspended, or are under investigation
due to process deficiencies and a prevalent lack of accountability. To keep it
concise, the most significant change is the redeployment of the Director of the
Funds and Accounts Department – a seconded officer from the Office of the
Accountant General. The allegation leveled against the then Director is
undergoing investigation by the anti-graft authorities including the core REA staff alleged to be involved. This marks a significant step forward, as it demonstrates the Agency’s commitment to accountability.
For context, since its establishment in 2006, REA faced numerous challenges,
including a lack of strategic direction during its initial ten years. In 2017, a new
Board and Management were appointed, initiating a cultural shift within the
Agency. Despite these efforts, rural electrification goals remained unmet due to institutional and sectoral challenges.
Since 2020, the Executive Management and Board have been dedicated to
aligning electrification projects with the goal of improving the lives of rural
communities in a sustainable manner. These efforts have resulted in various
electrification programs, such as the Nigeria Electrification Project (NEP),
Energizing Education Programme (EEP), Rural Electrification Fund (REF), EnergizingEconomies Initiative (EEI), a programatic budgeting program for capital projects
and others, with a particular focus on supporting the energy transition policy.
In addition to electrification, the Executive Management have worked to reform the Agency and improve the delivery of public goods and services, addressing issues like underinvestment, outdated processes, and limited technology adoption, which have hindered the Agency’s functions.
Upon assuming the role of MD/CEO at REA, Engineer Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad
encountered a myriad of unresolved staff issues within the Agency.

Recognizing the immense challenge of repositioning the Agency for effective project delivery, human resources became a pivotal consideration. In response, Engineer Ahmad wasted no time in addressing concerns related to the organization’s processes, structure, and staff welfare, with the aim of fostering a conducive work environment for optimal performance.
His first step was to initiate a comprehensive institutional assessment and appraisal of the Agency, carried out by a globally renowned organizational re-engineering firm. This assessment rigorously evaluated the Agency’s project delivery, institutional structure, and processes to determine its capacity to meet its mandate.
The recommendations from the assessment were meticulously
reviewed and approved by the Agency’s Board and the Minister before being
put into action, resulting in significant accomplishments.
During his tenure, Engineer Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad has been committed to
reforming REA while keeping the Agency’s focus on its core mission. Notable strategic interventions and reforms include:
1. The Agency’s vision, mission, and mandate were aligned with current policy
statements – the Rural Electrification Policy (REP), Rural Electrification Strategy and
Implementation Plan (RESIP), National Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency
Policy (NREEP) etc.
2. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) were introduced into the daily activities
of the Agency for each department, ensuring consistent and efficient practices.
3. The deployment of a robust monitoring and evaluation framework including
the implementation of harmonized technical standards for improved project
delivery.
4. Engineer Ahmad ensured the clearance of the backlog of overdue staff
promotions and ensured that all eligible staff received their well-deserved
promotions. As of today, no staff within the Agency lags behind in their career
progression.5. He obtained approval for a robust organizational structure from the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation on September 29, 2022. This
approval provided a seamless pathway for staff career advancement.
6. To address the issue of inadequate staffing due to a lack of approved
establishments, Engineer Ahmad secured approvals from the Office of the Head
of the Civil Service of the Federation to recruit additional staff across different
cadres. Subsequently, a rigorous employment aptitude test and oral interviews were conducted to select 43 new staff members, who have since been inducted and assigned to their respective roles.
7. Engineer Ahmad successfully redefined departmental job descriptions and specifications, ensuring that staff roles were clearly defined.

Indeed, these strategic efforts highlighted above have yielded the following
remarkable results:
1. From 2020 to date, REA has provided power to over 7.5 million people including
1.5 million households, delivering 130 Mini-Grid Projects, including 1.3 million
standalone home systems.
2. The Agency has equally deployed over 1,650km of solar streetlights, improving
power, security, and economic growth in rural areas.
3. REA completed 1,403 projects under the capital budget, delivering solar
streetlights, mini-grid projects, standalone home systems, and grid extension works.
4. Through various programs, including Energizing Education Program, Energizing Agriculture Program, Beyond COVID-19, and Economic Clusters, REA delivered over 65MW of power across Nigeria’s six geo-political zones.
5. REA has delivered over 500MW of power, electrified numerous communities, created 500,000 new jobs, and attracted over $2 billion in investments in the renewable energy sector over the past decade.
6. In advancing these achievements we have established partnerships with the
World Bank, the African Development Bank, the Global Alliance for People and
Planet (GEAPP), Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Sustainable Energy for ALL (SE4ALL), Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the United Kingdom Nigeria Infrastructure Advisory Facility (UKNIAF), the European Union, the United Nations Industrial Development

Organization (UNIDO), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), United States
Agency for International Development (USAID), United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP), and the Korean Institute of Advancement of Technology
(KIAT) etc.
7. In 2022, as part of the National Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy (NPRGS)
Program, REA secured an additional 4 billion in capital injection grants to provide clean power standalone home systems to over 50,000 locations, including rural homes, micro-businesses, schools, and faith-based institutions.
8. Most recently, on the back of the success of the Nigeria Electrification Project (NEP), REA negotiated and secured the advance approval of a $750 million facility with the World Bank to expand renewable and rural electrification initiatives, providing additional resources to Nigeria during a challenging period.
9. In response to subsidy removal, REA is implementing interventions to develop
electric mobility, mini-grids, distribute home systems, and deploy streetlights,
potentially supporting up to 250,000 households in the coming year.
Conclusively, we invite the public to join us in our comprehensive efforts to bring
power to unserved and underserved areas in Nigeria and to support the ongoing reforms led by the Agency’s leadership, with guidance from the Honourable Minister of Power in line with the RENEWED HOPE Agenda of the President.

Signed:
Muntari Ibrahim,
Acting Director,
Department of Promotion, Information and Outreach (DPIO) – REA.

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