Nigerian governors reject sale of power plants
Chioma Eche, Abuja
The Nigeria Governors’ Forum has rejected the sale of 10 power plants in the country and has gone to court to stop the move of privatisation of the plants by the Federal Government.
The Niger Delta Power Holding Company, which is owned by the federal, State, and local government councils, is a power generation and distribution company that oversees the implementation of National Independent Power Plants, NIIPPs.
The governors announced their resolve in a communiqué signed by the forum’s Chairman and Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, after their 8th teleconference meeting.
The statement partly says “the Forum, following its advocacy that the proposed privatisation of 10 National Integrated Power Projects (NIPPs) by the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) should be stopped, instructed its lawyers to approach the Federal High Court which, at present has issued a court order restraining all the parties in the suit from taking any step or action that will make or render the outcome of the motion on notice seeking for interlocutory injunction nugatory.
“The effect of the order of the court is that respondents cannot proceed with the proposed sale of the power plants belonging to the Niger Delta Power Holding Company Limited (NDPHCL) until the hearing and determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.”
Meanwhile, reacting to the governors’ decision, one of the consultants, Mr. Ned Nwoko, threatened to enforce the payment in a foreign country and freeze the federation accounts.
However, Mr. Nwoko did not mention the foreign country.
The Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, had earlier said that the Nigeria Governors Forum had no basis to reject the proposed deductions of $418m from the federation account, noting that the governors created the liability whose payment they had also indemnified.
Briefing State House correspondents on August 11, Malami said the governors commonly agreed on the engagement of the consultants to provide certain services for them relating to the recovery of the Paris Club fund.
When successes were recorded in the refund process, the governors collectively and individually presented a request to the Federal Government for the fund and among the components of the claim presented for the consideration of the Federal Government was the payment of these consultants that are now constituting the subject of contention,’’ he said.
But rising from their meeting, the governors opposed the move to pay the consultants despite the DMO promissory note.
The Governors in the communiqué said, ‘’We, members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum at our meeting held today received briefings on various sub-national programmes, interventions, and issues of national importance. On these we resolved as follows:
“Regarding the controversial $418 million Paris Club refund and promissory notes issued to consultants by the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Debt Management Office, the forum remains resolute in exploring all legal channels available to it in ensuring that resources belonging to states are not unjustly or illegally paid to a few in the guise of consultancies.’’
Responding to the forum’s resolution, Ned Nwoko, a former lawmaker, said, “They (Governors) will only embarrass the Federal Government because ” I will execute the judgment abroad. When I do that and the accounts of the Federal Government are frozen, they will not need the governors’ authority to pay.”
Speaking on the development, a lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, said it was better for the consultants to allow the matter to be settled in the local court, adding that foreign court would likely want to await the decision of the Nigerian court.
The States helmsmen were equally briefed by the Senior Programme Manager, States Fiscal Transparency Accountability and Sustainability Technical Assistance Programme, Olanrewaju Ajogbasile, on the implementation progress of the SFTAS programme which is in its last phase of annual assessments.
They were also informed about the technical assistance planned and ongoing to support the sustainability of the reforms including support to ensure the states publish their 2023 budget in line with the National Chart of Account.
The Nigerian Governors assured the programme of its commitment to sustain the reforms and implement recommendations that could further strengthen its public financial management systems.
Also the Honourable Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola briefed the Forum on the congestion of the custodial centers across the country and the digitisaation of immigration processes.
Members welcomed the report of the Minister and committed to working with law enforcement agencies, the judiciary, and the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) on the recommendations put forward as they relate to individual State jurisdiction.
‘’Members welcomed the report of the minister and committed to working with law enforcement agencies, the judiciary, and the Nigeria Immigration Service on the recommendations put forward as they relate to individual state jurisdiction,’’ the communiqué added.
It explained that the Senior Health Advisor, Dr Ahmad Abdulwahab briefed the forum on the progress with polio and routine immunization highlighting that there has been an 85 per cent reduction in the number of Circulating Vaccine-Derived PolioVirus in 2022 from 1,028 cases recorded in 2021.
The statement also disclosed that the governors were also given an update on the implementation progress of the COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Project and the recently launched Primary Health Care Leadership Challenge.