16 January 2016, Abuja — The Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, has formally written to the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, to explain the role its Director General, Banjamin Dikki played in engaging the legal team that concluded the winding up exercise of defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN.
Also in a related development, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, has said it has initiated sincere steps to overcome extant institutional oppositions to the February 1 takeoff of the reviewed cost reflective electricity tariff for use in Nigeria’s electricity industry.
According to a copy of the letter which Dikki wrote to Osibanjo on account of charges of corruption leveled against him by a former director in the privatisation agency, the alleged N1.5 billion paid for the engagement of the legal team, Messrs. J K Gadazama as the consultant, was approved by the National Council on Privatisation, NCP, and not him.
In a copy of the letter obtained by this reporter, Dikki explained that he was not privy to the processes that led to the appointment and payment of Messrs. J K Gadazama as he was appointed head of the agency in November, about six months after the NCP approved the consultancy in May.
He said in this regard that: “The fact is that the National Council on Privatisation at its 3rd meeting of 2013 held on Thursday May 9, 2013 had approved the engagement of Messrs. J K Gadazama as the consultant for winding up of PHCN.”
The letter added that Dikki was appointed as the agency’s acting head on November 27, 2013, over six months later.
According to the corruption charges against Dikki by a former director, a former head of BPE, Ms. Bolanle Onagoruwa was removed from office partly because she refused to accept the appointment of a prominent lawyer with affiliations to the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, to wind up PHCN for an amount exceeding N1.5 billion.
Dikki was said to had immediately after Onagoruwa’s removal, established a committee that awarded the assignment to the preferred law firm. But he denied these charges, describing them as lies.
Osibanjo heads the NCP as its chairman, while the BPE serves as its secretariat.
Meanwhile, the acting head of NERC, Dr. Anthony Akah has disclosed that the commission was taking proactive steps to clear extant institutional bottlenecks that could prevent the takeoff of the country’s revised electricity tariff order, the Multi Year Tariff Order (MYTO-2015) on February 1.
He stated in a phone conversation on the status of consultation with different opposing interests to the tariff takeoff, that while the commission hopes to see the new rates come into effect as scheduled, it will also continue to consult with relevant parties to gain their buy-in on the new order.
The National Assembly has reportedly kicked against the takeoff of the rates, while there are also existing court injunctions against the rates, but Akah said that the commission will in undertaking its regulatory duties, observe its respect for the country’s existing laws.
His clarification was however based on industry reports that further delays in the takeoff of a cost reflective electricity tariff could possibly lead to the collapse of the country’s budding privatised electricity industry.
“The MYTO 2015 as signed takes effect on February 1, 2016. The commission has utmost respect for the National Assembly, the judiciary and other bodies that have concerns on this and we are working towards addressing all concerns.
This new tariff which is based on realistic market price will improve the quality and quantity of electricity delivered to customers and provide a fair return on investment for operators. The tariff order has a robust customer protection mechanism to guide against exploitation,” said Akah.
*Chineme Okafor – Thisday