13 November 2015, Abuja – The Senate Ad hoc Committee on Privatisation on Thursday accused the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) of compromising the integrity of the privatisation of the power sector by receiving gifts from the distribution companies (Discos) and generating companies (Gencos).
The committee also accused the BPE of short-changing Nigerians by failing to provide a responsible link between Nigerians and investors.
This accusation was made at the conclusion of the two-day public hearing on crisis in the power sector organised by the committee in National Assembly.
The Chairman of the committee, Senator Abubakar Kyari, disclosed how members of BPE serving in the boards of the Discos and Gencos received gifts such as Land Cruisers and Prado Jeeps from the companies.
According to Kyari, BPE staff obtained such juicy gifts that they could not get from BPE from the companies and consequently connived with the Discos and Gencos to short-change Nigerians.
Kyari said: “I have the protection of the Senate to say what we have gathered. There are some staff of the Bureau of Public Enterprises that are board members of generation companies and distribution companies who were given Prado and Land Cruiser Jeeps. They are conniving with them.”
Another member of the committee, Senator Aliyu Abdullahi, alleged lack of co-ordination between the power sector and BPE.
According to him, BPE is saddled with the responsibility of negotiating for the country on the privatisation process and hence, needed to be technically and morally responsible to the country but has been “short changing the country.”
In his response, the Director-General of BPE, Mr . Benjamin Dikki, said BPE staff in the boards of the Discos and Gencos were not seconded to the boards to obtain gifts but to explore the veto power of BPE to stop any investment by the power firms that is in contrast with their agreement with BPE.
“We are there to protect Nigerians. What companies are paying or have given to their board members as privileges should be referred to the respective companies. Whether the privileges are right or not, I don’t know. I take exception that we have shortchanged the government. We balanced the interest of government and investors because what we are looking for is investment. We need to create an enabling environment for the business to thrive,” he said.
Dikki also defended the Discos and Gencos’ inefficiency, saying they only get between 70 and 80 per cent of what they generate and hence find it difficult to recoup their investments.
Asked by the chairman if that was the reason for the power plants’ inefficiency, Dikki disagreed and blamed it on the failure of the government to keep to the terms of agreement it reached with power firms.
He listed such agreements to include government’s pledge to provide subsidy of N50 billion annually for two years to the investors, a situation he said had made it impossible for them to accrue revenues.
According to Dikki, the development had made it difficult to hold the power firms accountable for their inability to meet the set targets. “If you tell them they are not meeting targets, they also will say these are the reasons,” Dikki said.
He also said the investors have been clamouring for cost reflective tariffs which they could present to their financiers to enable them secure money to fund their projects.
He also said they sought to present the tariffs to their bankers to secure cash flow that they can invest in social infrastructure.
Earlier, former Minister of Power and Steel, Mr. Suleiman Bello, who had accused the BPE of rushing the privatisation process, faulted the privatisation process, saying whereas investors were expected to bring money into the system, they ended up depending on Nigeria’s money to run their projects.
- This Day