25 November 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Adhoc Committee set up by the leadership of the House of Representatives has said it would commence the investigative public hearing into the sales of power assets conducted by Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) on the 7th December 2016.
Other issues to be investigated includes the $23.6 million allegedly paid to Manitoba Hydro International (MHI) of Canada to manage the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) without due process.
Idris Ahmed, chairman of the Adhoc Committee, who disclosed this at the pre-public hearing briefing held in Abuja, however, denied insinuation over an unsavoury relationship between the Executive and the Legislature, especially on the privatisation exercise.
Ahmed admitted that reforms in the Nigerian power sector commenced upon the realisation that a substantial measure of national economic growth and development could not be achieved without solving many challenges bedevilling the power industry.
According to him, Federal Government resolved to privatise the sector owing to the need to ensure efficiency and effective performance of the sector through by enacting the Nigerian Electric Power Sector Reform Act, 2005.
“This led to the de-establishment of National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) and subsequently the creation of Power Holding Company (PHCN), which was unbundled into 18 successor companies, comprising six generation companies (Gencos), 11 Distribution Companies (Discos) and Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).
“Majority equity stakes of the Gencos and the Discos were sold in 2013, while ownership of the TCN was retained by the Federal Government under management concession,” he noted.
While responding to question on the efforts made so far to verify the abuses in the management concession of TCN, Ahmed vowed that the House will ensure recovery of all the monies paid out and prosecute any officials found wanting.
He however observed that the privatisation exercise aimed at improving efficiency, ending subsidies to PHCN and channeling the gains to other sectors like Agriculture, health and other critical sectors of social welfare, was defeated, as “all gains were lost through alleged corruption, manipulation of rules and disregard to extant laws and lack of transparency in the exercise.
“The House was also concerned that the lofty goals of privatisation was marred by the sale of the sector to preferred bidders that could not pay the bid value on the sale, instead the BPE encouraged the deferment of payment and restructuring of payment terms in contravention of bidding rules to the disadvantage of other bidders.
“The House was worried at the apparent lack if due process in the alleged payment of $23.6 million per annum in the contract award to Manitoba Hydro International (HMI) for four years after which it was terminated due to non-performance, without any recourse,” the chairman bemoaned.
While assuring that the investigative public hearing will be conducted without fear of favour, Ahmed assured that the exercise is being carried out in line with the oath of office taken by the House to uphold the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and all other extant laws of the country as well as in the interest of Nigerian people.
Some of the stakeholders invited by the Committee include: management team of BPE, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC); Electricity Generating companies (Gencos), electricity distribution companies (Discos), the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), all successful and non-successful bidders for the assets, consultants, lawyers and all persons that were instrumental in the sale of power sector assets.