NCP members kick as BPE refuses to convene meeting on PHCN privatisation


Benjamin Dikki, DG, BPE

05 September 2013, Abuja – There is disquiet among members of the Technical Committee of the National Council on Privatisation, NCP, over the inability of the committee to meet on the ongoing privatisation of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN.

NCP technical committee sources told THISDAY that all efforts by the committee members to meet to deliberate on the unfolding development in the privatisation process of the PHCN had not been successful because the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, which should ensure that all logistics for the meeting were in place, had failed to play its role.

Sources within the committee are, however, pointing accusing fingers at BPE Director General, Mr. Benjamin Ezra Dikki, who is the chief accounting officer of the bureau and who is directly responsible for ensuring that funds for logistics, such as hotel accommodation for members drawn from different parts of the country, are released.

While NCP is the apex body charged with the overall responsibility of formulating and approving policies on privatisation and commercialisation, BPE is saddled with the overall responsibility of implementing the council’s policies on privatisation and commercialisation.

The technical committee, however, plays an advisory role and also ensures strict adherence to due process by the BPE.

Sources within the technical committee said members of the committee were particularly worried that they could not meet to deliberate on the ongoing privatisation process of the unbundled power company as demanded by their mandate, at a time when activities in the sector had increased .

There had been several unfolding development in the privatisation process of PHCN lately.

For instance, some days ago, seven preferred bidders for successor generation and distribution companies from the unbundled PHCN paid up their 75 per cent outstanding balance of bid prices for their acquired assets to meet the deadline set by BPE.

“We are worried because this may be a deliberate step to keep us out of the activities going on in the privatisation process of PHCN,” a source on the committee told THISDAY last night.

Interestingly, the power sector is a priority programme of the President Goodluck Jonathan administration, and the realisation of the sector’s goals depends largely on the successful privatisation of the PHCN.

It is, however, unclear whether the issue has been brought to the attention of Vice-President Namadi Sambo, who is also the chairman of NCP, or President Goodluck Jonathan.

The BPE DG could not be reached for his own side of the story as at the time of filing this report.

Meanwhile, the South-east zone of the All Progressives Congress, APC, has expressed outrage with federal government’s handling of the privatisation of the Enugu Electric Distribution Company.

The party, in a statement issued by Chief Osita Okechukwu, accused the government of playing politics with the privatisation of Enugu Disco, by favouring Interstate Electric Limited, promoted by Chief Emeka Offor, a Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, financier, whose company  failed woefully to meet up with the payment of 75 per cent balance deadline of August  21.

Okechukwu said: “The government has refused to invite the reserved bidder against the rules and regulations guiding the privatisation exercise. We are amazed that President Jonathan is looking the other way, while the vice-president wants to grant 21 days grace to Interstate which has demonstrated incapacity to source the bid fund; instead of inviting the reserve bidder, Eastern Electric Ltd as provided by the law.

“The buck stops at the table of Mr. President and he cannot feign ignorance of the culture of impunity enveloping the privaisation of ENDISCO, the life wire of the enterprising Igbo people. If Interstate cannot easily pay $93.24 million, tell me how it can fund the upgrade of the distribution network?

Okechukwu said the party was in agreement with Mr. Atedo Peterside of the NCP, who had advised that the preferred bidder be disqualified.

“We instead turn to the reserve bidder in order to maintain the integrity of the process. Our worry is that our people are enterpreneurs and are earnestly yearning for improved and accelerated power supply, which Interstate lacks the capacity to provide.

“APC is compelled to ask, as our commonwealth is being handed over in less than transparent ways and manner; where is Ohaneze Ndigbo, the South-east Governors’ Forum chairman, Mr. Peter Obi, who is the governor of Anambra State and co-travelers who crawl day and night in support and even endorsed President Jonathan for 2015?

“APC once more wishes to caution Ndigbo on the ravish support they give to PDP in the last 14 years, which events have proved to be wasted and inconsequential; otherwise how can Interstate promoted by one man be preferred over Eastern Electric promoted by the five South-east governments?” he queried.

– Tokunbo Adedoja and Onyebuchi Ezigbo, This Day

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