Reps to investigate sale of power assets

Lawan Hamidu, Abuja.

The House of Representatives says it will investigate the sale of power assets conducted by Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, under the government power reform programme.

 Other issues to be investigated include, the $23.6 million allegedly paid to Manitoba Hydro International of Canada to manage the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN without due process.

Chairman, Adhoc Committee set up to investigate the matter, Idris Ahmed, who said this at pre-public hearing held in Abuja, however denied insinuations of a sour relationship between the Executive and Legislature, especially on the privatisation exercise.

Mr. Ahmed stressed the need for reforms in the Nigerian power sector as part of measures adopted to solve challenges bedevilling the power industry to achieve national economic growth and development.

The lawmaker argued that the government’s decision to privatise the sector was based on the need to ensure efficiency and effective performance of the sector through the Nigerian Electric Power Sector Reform Act, 2005.

“This led to the de-establishment of National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) and subsequently the creation of Power Holding Company (PHCN), which was unbundled into 18 successor companies, comprising six generation companies (GENCOs), 11 Distribution Companies (DISCOs) and Transmission Company of Nigeria.

Majority equity stakes of the GENCOs and the DISCOs were sold in 2013, while ownership of the TCN was retained by the Federal Government under management concession,” he stated.

 Ahmed observed that  “all gains were lost through alleged corruption, manipulation of rules and disregard to extant laws and lack of transparency in the exercise.

The House was also concerned that the lofty goals of privatisation was marred by the sale of the sector to preferred bidders that could not pay the bid value on the sale, instead the BPE encouraged the deferment of payment and restructuring of payment terms in contravention of bidding rules to the disadvantage of other bidders.

The House was worried at the apparent lack of due process in the alleged payment of $23.6 million per annum in contract award to Manitoba Hydro International (HMI) for four years after which it was terminated due to non-performance,” the chairman lamented.

Some of the stakeholders invited for the December 7th Public Hearing by the Committee include the management team of BPE, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC); GENCOs, DISCOs, TCN, all successful and non-successful bidders for the assets, consultants, lawyers and all persons that were  instrumental in the sale of power sector assets.