President Muhammadu Buhari has nominated Akintunde Ibitayo Akinwande, a professor in the electrical engineering and computer science department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), as the executive chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).
Akinwande will succeed Sam Amadi whose tenure ended in 2015.
Babatunde Fashola, minister of works, power and housing, had preferred Olasupo Shasore, who was once attorney-general under him as governor of Lagos.
Shasore was one of the aspirants reportedly supported by Fashola for the APC governorship ticket in the state in 2015.
He and Femi Hamzat, Fashola’s commissioner for works, were defeated by Akinwunmi Ambode, the preferred candidate of Bola Tinubu, a national leader of APC.
Ambode went ahead to win the election, but the relationship between Tinubu and Fashola has not improved since then.
A presidency insider told TheCable that Shasore, a senior advocate of Nigeria, could not be picked because “the president does not want anything that will stoke tension in the Lagos axis again”.
It was widely reported last year that Tinubu did not support the appointment of Fashola as minister because of their strained relationship.
Bello Suleiman, an engineer and former minister of mines, power and steel development, was also suggested for the NERC slot but Buhari was not well disposed to him, TheCable understands.
Suleiman was minister in the Abdulsalami Abukakar military administration and became the MD of the National Electrical Power Authority (NEPA) – the predecessor of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) – under President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Presidency insiders told TheCable that Buhari personally sought out the NERC nominees as he is doing in critical areas of his administration.
“The president’s expectation is that with more professionals in his team, including those from the Diaspora, he will be able to deliver the goods in these critical areas,” a senior official said.
NERC, which regulates the power sector, is key to the resolution of the electricity crisis as the government has already privatised distribution and generation entities.
Only transmission is still under the control of the federal government and it is currently being managed by Manitoba of Canada on contractual basis.
Buhari sent the names of the nominees to the senate for confirmation before they embarked on their long recess on Thursday.
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Akintunde Ibitayo Akinwande: He is a professor in the electrical engineering and computer science department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA. He received a B.Sc. (1978) in electrical and electronic engineering from the University of Ife, Nigeria, a MS (1981) and Ph.D. (1986) in electrical engineering from Stanford University, Stanford, California, according to his academic profile.
He joined Honeywell Inc. in 1986 where he initially conducted research on GaAs Complementary FET technology for very high speed and low power signal processing. He later joined the Si Microstructures group where he conducted research on pressure sensors, accelerometers, thin-film field emission and display devices.
Akinwande joined MIT’s Microsystems Technology Laboratories (MTL) in January 1995 where his research focuses on micro-fabrication and electronic devices with particular emphasis on smart sensors and actuators, intelligent displays, large area electronics (macro-electronics), field emission & field ionization devices, mass spectrometry and electric propulsion.
He is a recipient of the 1996 National Science Foundation (NSF) Career Award. He has served a number of technical program committees for various conferences, including the Device Research Conference, the International Electron Devices Meeting, the International Solid-State Circuits Conference, the International Display Research Conference and the International Vacuum Microelectronics Conference.
Akinwande holds numerous patents in MEMS, Electronics on Flexible Substrates, Display technologies and has authored more than 100 journal publications. He was a visiting professor at the Cambridge University engineering department and an Overseas Fellow of Churchill College in 2002-2003. He is a current member of the IEEE Nanotechnology Council. He is from Offa, Kwara state.
Musiliu Olalekan Oseni (south-west nominee): BSc economics (first class) from University of Ibadan in 2007; MSc energy economics and policy (with distinction) from University of Surrey, UK, 2010 and PhD in business energy economic in 2015 from the University of Cambridge, UK. His doctorate thesis was on “Self-Generation and Payments for Quality of Service in Electricity Markets”.
Dafe C. Akpeneye (south-south nominee): A 2001 law graduate from Obafemi Awolowo University. Currently the Director, Regulatory Services/General Counsel, West Africa for PricewaterCoopers Nigeria.
Okafor Frank Nwoye (south-east nominee): He is a professor in the department of electrical engineering, University of Lagos. He is a specialist in power systems and control.
Sanusi Garba (north-west nominee): Bsc engineering, ABU, Zaria, 1974; master’s in industrial management, University of Birmingham, 1980.
Nathan Rogers Shatti (north-east nominee): Former commissioner for finance in Adamawa state. Fellow of Chartered Accountants, Shatti was formerly with Exxon Mobil in several countries in Europe and East Africa before becoming manager, treasury and banking services in Mobil Oil Nigeria PLC in 2006. He graduated in accounting from ABU in 1990.
Moses Arigu (north-central nominee): Currently the GCS Partner vice-president (capital markets technology and operations), Royal Bank of Canada. Before then (between 2007 and 2010), he was with JPMorgan Chase (Investment Bank, New York). He was also with Credit Suisse (Swiss Bank, New York), from 2005 to 2007.