November 1 power firms’ handover date uncertain –BPE

Acting-Director-General-BPE-Mr-Benjamin-Dikki18 October 2013, Abuja – The Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, says the physical handover of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria’s successor generation and distribution firms to their new owners may not hold on November 1, 2013 as earlier scheduled.

Director-General, BPE, Mr. Benjamin Dikki, said the agency would not affirm the date of the physical handover yet until it was certain that all labour issues had been adequately settled.

He spoke on the sidelines of a power expo organised by the Federal Ministry of Power in Abuja on Thursday.

Dikki also announced that almost the entire $3bn generated from the sale of the electricity generation and distribution companies would be used to settle the severance entitlements of the workers.

The BPE had announced last week that it made $3bn from the sale of the power assets.

On why the Federal Government was unsure of the handover date to the new owners of the power firms, the BPE boss said the agency was still reviewing the issues.

He added, “The official handover date will be announced appropriately. We are meeting tomorrow (today) to review the issues. If we think the issues that need to be addressed are properly addressed and that a handover can take place before or after November 1, we will announce to you.

“We want to make sure that the handover is done when all the critical issues like labour concerns are properly addressed. We will assess the progress of the payment exercise, find out if the bulk of the workers have received bank alerts for the severance package and the pension payout, and other issues.

“So, when we think all the critical issues have been properly addressed, then we will announce when we will do the formal handover.”

Asked to state how much of the $3bn would be used to settle the PHCN workers, Dikki said, “Virtually all of it is going to labour payment. This has been communicated to them that the proceeds from the sale are going to be used to address the labour issues.

“There are many ways of corroborating this information. You can go and verify. The BPE has remitted the money to the Accountant-General of the Federation’s office. The account-general’s office is in the process of remitting the money to their individual Retirement Savings Accounts. I don’t see what is hidden in this thing that should cause any ground for apprehension.”

Earlier, the Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, had said by the end of the first quarter of next year, all the 10 National Integrated Power Projects in the country would have been inaugurated.

He added that the government was working hard to ensure that it also put in place the facilities that would be capable of wheeling out the targeted 10,000 megawatts of electricity that would be generated before the first quarter of next year.

Nebo said, “Nigeria produces and consumes per capita only 2.5 per cent of what South Africa is producing and consuming. In order to be at par with South Africa, we need to increase our production and consumption of electricity.

“In other words, we shouldn’t be talking about 4,000MW or 10,000MW. By the end of 2014, we should be talking about 160,000MW. This is because the opportunities are there.”

The minister said not all Nigerians were connected to the national grid because the Federal Government did not have the resources to make sure that every community in the country was connected.

He added, “The investment needed will cripple the entire budget of the country. So, we are looking for partners to take power to the rural areas, and that is why we are working out modalities to make sure that Nigeria has a robust power base. Not just the gas-fired or hydro power turbines, but also coal generation, solar, wind and biomass.

“It is only when we begin to explore these energy sources that we will be able to get power to the remote areas that are not yet connected to the national grid.”

– The Punch

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