Despite Objections, BPE Says Takeover Of Benin, Kaduna, PH, Ibadan DISCOs Concluded Successfully

Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Alex Okoh, says the take-over of the Kaduna, Kano, Ibadan and Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) has been concluded successfully, seemingly brushing aside objections by the previous core investors.

According to a statement on Sunday by Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Okoh disclosed this in a presentation made at a virtual meeting of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) on Tuesday last week.

The challenge in the takeover of the Benin DISCO is being addressed, the BPE DG was quoted as saying.

Investdata News recalls that the management of Benin Electricity Distribution Company Plc, early last week insisted that there was no legal basis for the takeover of the company following the purported activation of the call on its collateralised shares by Fidelity Bank, among others, over their inability to repay the loans obtained to acquire majority stakes in them in furtherance of the 2013 privatisation exercise.

It warned that “any attempt by Fidelity Bank and/or the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to intervene in its operations in the manner being reported, “will be illegal, unlawful and will be resisted.”

BEDC stated unequivocally that, “there is no contractual, statutory or regulatory basis for” appointment of new board with the approval of the BPE and the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, stressing that “the shares of BEDC have not been given as security to Fidelity Bank or to any other party.

At last week’s meeting chaired by the Vice President who was represented by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, Vice Chair of the Council, Okoh made a presentation on the concession of the Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Plant, inviting NCP to note steps taken by the Bureau to fast track the process.

The statement by the Office of the Vice President also announced the inauguration of a board of the Nigeria Electricity Liability Management Company (NELMCO) by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, as part of enhancing “ongoing efforts to resolve liabilities relating to tariff shortfalls for distribution companies, among other challenges plaguing Nigeria’s power sector.”

The company has been operating without a duly constituted board since the first one was inaugurated in 2013 and dissolved shortly after.

Osinbajo in his remarks delivered virtually on Friday, said the event “marks an important milestone in the bid to resolve the liabilities relating to tariff shortfalls in the power sector (specifically for Distribution Companies), and to provide a veritable mechanism for managing the very dynamic nature of the liquidity challenges of the power sector in Nigeria.”

The Vice President said the board is “expected to make conscious and deliberate efforts to develop appropriate strategies to facilitate the successful conclusion of the outstanding pre-privatisation issues of the defunct PHCN, and ensure an effective implementation of NELMCO’s additional mandate to resolve the tariff shortfall problems of the Electricity Distribution Companies.

“In view of the challenges ahead, you are expected to draw extensively on our experience over the years, to continue to give credence to the Federal Government of Nigeria’s economic development programme in a transparent, sustainable, credible and acceptable manner.

“The Board is required to take appropriate steps to also ensure that the interests of the various segments of our society, particularly the ordinary citizens, are protected in the implementation of NELMCO’s mandate,” the VP added.

On the board’s mandate, Prof. Osinbajo charged members “to diligently carry out the responsibilities assigned to the board in accordance with the provisions of the Memorandum and Articles of Association (MEMART) of the Company.”

Responding on behalf of the members, the Chairman and Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Ahmed, assured Osinbajo of the board’s preparedness to ensure quick resolution of tariff shortfalls and related issues in the power sector in the most efficient manner.

Other members of the board are: the Minister of Power, Engr. Abubakar Aliyu; BPE DG; DG of the Debt Management Office (DMO), Ms. Patience Oniha; Managing Director of NELMCO, Bayo Fagbemi; Muhammad Aliyu Jumma’a; Olufunso Olutola Olukoga; Dr. Chinedum Orisakwe; Mojoyinoluwa Dekalu-Thomas; and Dr. Nurain Hassan Ibrahim.