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Why Nnaji resigned as Power Minister

Channels Television  
Updated August 28, 2012

After a protracted face-off with the electricity workers union, the Minister of Power, Professor Barth Nnaji, on Monday, resigned his appointment as the nation’s power helmsman over conflict of interest in the on-going privatisation of the Power Holding Companies of Nigeria (PHCN).

Although the former Minister is yet to make any comment on his resignation, there are reports linking Prof Nnaji to two of the companies that were initially cleared to participate in the forthcoming bidding process for some of the nation’s power generation and distribution companies on September 25.

The National Council on Privatization (NCP) has since cancelled the technical bid and evaluation process conducted for the two companies at the heart of the alleged controversy; Afam Generation Company LTD and Enugu Distribution Company Limited.

It is gathered that Prof Nnaji who was also a member of the NCP, had in the past notified the council of his interest in the privatization process, while disclosing that he had resigned from the board of Geometric power, a company he founded that is bidding for the takeover of the Afam Generation Company.

The former Minister who was recently the guest on our weekend program ‘Sunrise’ made it clear that there’s no alternative to privatising the nation’s power sector. He also denied any pre-knowledge of the companies that bid for the PHCN’s take-over.

President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday accepted Professor Nnaji’s resignation with immediate effect.

In a statement, the president thanked him for his services to the nation under the present administration and wished him well in his future endeavour.

Before his resignation, Professor Nnaji had never minced words over the issue of privatizing the PHCN and he has been at loggerheads with electricity unions over the on-going reforms in the power sector and the privitisation of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).

A major source of that conflict has been the issue of the severance benefits to be paid to the staff of the PHCN after the sale of the 18 companies produced by the unbundling of the company.

Since his appointment as the Minister of Power, Prof Nnaji, a graduate of Physics at St John’s University had canvassed for major reforms in the Nigeria comatose power sector.

As part of his reforms programme, the Minister has embarked on a scheme to privatise Nigeria’s power generation plants as well as the country’s transmission company.

This move have pitched Prof Nnaji against the electricity workers, who felt threatened that the private companies would sack them if they assume management of privatised companies.

The Minister on Sunrise explained the controversy over PHCN’s salary structure and superannuation.

Prof Nnaji is the director and a founder of the Automation and Robotics Laboratory at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He was made a Professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering in 1992.

He is also the founder of the first indigenous owned power generating company in Nigeria and was also a former minister for Science and Technology in the country.

He ran in the 2007 Nigerian presidential election as the candidate for the Better Nigeria Party.