Power Sector Owners Yet To Invest For Better Performance – Barth Nnaji

Barth NnajiA former Minister of Power, Barth Nnaji, on Wednesday called on investors in Nigeria’s power sector to start investing, to improve the quality of service and deliver better power supply to the citizens as that was the reason the government sold the infrastructure to them.

According to Mr Nnaji, one of the keynote speakers at the 7th Lagos Economic Summit (EHINGBETI 2014) said the new owners “invested to purchase but they haven’t invested to improve.” He said this while appearing on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily.

Mr Nnaji mentioned that rapid investment is one key issue and the companies that purchased the distribution and generation companies must invest quickly because “that’s the whole essence of the privatization.”

He added that the privatization process would be meaningless unless those companies actually deliver on what they signed on to, which is, “they must invest to improve efficiency of collection and the network for distribution companies. Those who purchased generation companies must invest to lift the generation figures. ”

The Federal Government had assured Nigerians that the reforms made in the power sector would put an end to epileptic power supply experienced in many parts of the country but many still complain of poor service.

On this Nnaji said the performance growth in the sector should have been incremental and that the investors would need to replace a lot of dilapidated transformers, lines as well as install connection systems, prepaid meters to satisfy the demand for electricity.

He said, the time it would take citizens to feel the impact of the privatization process would vary depending on the area, noting that it would take about a year for those in Lagos to feel the changes.

He disclosed that there were generating plants in Lagos which only require gas to deliver power as quickly as possible. He mentioned that vandalism was playing a huge role on the unavailability of gas and that the infrastructure needs more investment and monitoring systems to ensure better delivery.

When asked about the possibilities of hydro power, Nnaji said “Hydro has a limit. After Mambilla and Zungaru (power plants), there’s really no other big hydro that we are working on so we have to understand that as a country.

Nnaji, who said that the success of Nigeria’s power sector would have to come from gas fired plants and coal fired plants, noted that there were large deposits of coal in Enugu, Benue, Kogi and Gombe States.

He mentioned that the large economies of the world including America and China were using coal-fired plants to generate up to 60 percent of their power despite the negative implications to the environment.

“So people can’t tell Nigeria, you should be very clean and be tree-huggers here, while they are powering their economy with coal. It’s just unacceptable. I think (in) Nigeria, we have to willfully go about this and invest in coal-fired plants.”

He defended his position on Nigeria using coal despite the implications to environmental health, stating that the coal quality in Nigeria is better that in many other countries. The coal has no sulfur and has high calorific value and so not “great pollutants” to the environment.

FG Ratifies Sale of 10 Electricity Distribution Companies

The National Council on Privatisation (NCP), chaired by Vice-President Namadi Sambo on Friday ratified the sale of 10 electricity distribution companies (DISCOS) including the Enugu Disco, for which the reserve bidder is challenging the sale in court.

The preferred bidder, Interstate Consortium, had reportedly failed to meet payment deadline but still secured the deal, a development the reserved bidder, Eastern Electric, is kicking against.

Interstate is linked to businessman, Emeka Offor, while eastern electric is linked to former minister of power, Barth Nnaji.

Chairman of the NCP Technical Sub-Committee on the sale process, Mr. Atedo Peterside, who confirmed the eventual sale, however declined to give details of how the issue was resolved because it’s now before the courts.

The announcement of the sale is coming at a time Nigerians have expressed concern over the Enugu Disco.

Mr. Osita Okechukwu in a press conference gave the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) an ultimatum to furnish the Nigerian public on the sale in line with the freedom of information act or face legal action.

Meanwhile, the bulk of the proceeds from the sales is being used for the payment of severance entitlements to about 49,000 workers of the Power Holding Company Of Nigeria (PHCN)

According to the NCP all payments are scheduled to be completed by September 27, while the formal hand-over of the companies to the new owners will be done in October.



REVIEW: 2012 A Gain Or Loss To Nigerians

As year 2012 rolls to an end Nigerians will be counting their blessings or bemoaning their fate when they look at the performance of the Goodluck Jonathan administration and how it has impacted on their lives.

Their judgement will be based on the fact that with the powers vested on the president and the resources at his disposal, President Jonathan should be able to provide Nigerians with infrastructure as well as protect their lives and property.

Channels Television’s State House correspondent Chukwuma Onuekwusi in this special report gives an assessment of the president’s performance in the last one year.

Over N500 million PHCN pension trapped in London – Report

A panel set up to investigate the electricity workers’ pension contributions in the power sector has submitted its report to the minister of state for power.

PHCN employees protest over pension

Submitting the report on Monday in Abuja, the Chairman of the investigative panel and a former Auditor-General of the Federation, Joseph Ajiboye said that Power Holding Company of Nigeria’s (PHCN) workers’ pensions was never a contributory scheme and was never funded by a budgetary allocation but rather through an internal arrangement in the company.

“The problem with the PHCN was that they didn’t have sufficient fund to be able to meet the requirements of that closed system, that is the major problem,” he said.

Another major finding of the report according to Mr Ajiboye, was the existence of a mini—estate constructed to service the electricity workers’ retirement fund which was sold off without remissions to the fund, thereby starving the fund and making it impossible to pay off retired workers.

The eight-man-panel also reported that over two million pounds (approximately N500 million) which ought to have gone to the retirement fund is presently stuck in a London account and that if recovered could help solve the ongoing impasse between the electricity workers and the federal government.

The former Auditor-General said he believes that “government in its wisdom will find a solution to this problem.”

The investigative panel’s report has long been awaited. The panel was given 30 working days to probe the PHCN pension scheme especially the details of the N300 billion allegedly accumulated in the NEPA retirement fund which the former minister of power, Barth Nnaji had insisted was only N3 billion.

The Minister of State for Power, Nuhu Wya, while receiving the report from the panel said “We hope this report will aid us to find a solution the lingering labour issue. And you know the only labour issue that is outstanding now is that of pension.”

The PHCN staff are demanding a 25 percent benefit on their pensions different from the 15 percent severance package offered by the federal government on grounds that this was a set standard for pensions and gratuity payoff peculiar to the PHCN pensions scheme under the retirement fund.

Reactions trail Nnaji’s resignation

A columnist with Thisday Newspaper, Simeon Kolawole has said that the former Minister of Power, Barth Nnaji took the right thing to have step aside from the power sector since his companies had interest in the sector.

Speaking as a guest in Channels Television’s weekend programme, Sunrise, Mr Kolawole said that though on assumption of office, the minister said that he has ceded his stakes in the companies to a blind trust, practically, this was not possible.

Jonathan reconstitutes two committees on power

President Goodluck Jonathan has once more assured Nigerians and foreign investors that the progress made in the power sector remains irreversible.

The president gave this assurance while inaugurating two committees that he said will work day and night to ensure that Nigerians enjoy steady power supply despite the recent resignation of the minister of power, Barth Nnaji.

The committees are the presidential action committee on power which will headed by Mr Jonathan himself.

The other members of the presidential action committee on power include Vice President Namadi Sambo, the Secretary to the Federal Government, Anyim Pius Anyim, and the head of service of the federation, Isa Bello Sali.

Others are the chief of staff to the president, the Attorney General of the Federation, the coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, the Ministers of Labour and Productivity, power, Petroleum resources, and National Planning, the Chief Economic Adviser to the president, the personal adviser to the president on performance monitoring, the Director General of Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), the Director General, Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) , the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corp (NNPC) and the Chairman of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

The second committee on power reconstituted by President Jonathan is the Presidential Task Force which will be headed by Engineer Beks Dagogo-Jack.

The other members of this committee are the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Pls, Rumundaka Wonodi, the Chief Executive Officer of Transmission Company of Nigeria, Olusola Akinniraye, the Chief Executive Officer of Abuja Electrity Distribution Company, Abdulganiyu Umar, the Chief Executive Officer of Ughelli Power Plc, Paul Umunna, the Chief Executive Officer of Eko Electricity Distribution Company, Oladele Amoda.

Others are the Managing Director of Niger Delta Power Holding Company Limited, James Olotu, the Managing Director of Nigeria Gas Company, Saidu Mohammed, the Chief Executive Officer of Geregu Power Plc, Adeyemi Adenuga, and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Power, Dere Awosika.

Nnaji assures Nigerians of continuity in power sector reforms

Former minister of Power, Barth Nnaji on Friday assured investors that their interest in the Nigeria’s power sector is protected regardless of his resignation.

He also assures Nigerians that the on-going reforms in the nation’s power sector will remain on course.

Mr Nnaji gave this assurance as he formally handed over the running of the ministry to the minister of state, Darius Ishiaku during a brief handover ceremony in Abuja.

He allayed the fears of many Nigerians who have expressed concern over the continuity of development projects in the sector by insisting that structures and institutions are in place to carry on with the reforms and privatization of the sector.

“This is not about persons, it’s about structure. I believe that we did put all the good structure in place,” he said.

The former minister said that the MoU implementation team had been established already and “all that my colleague and the Perm Sec is to simply get them to be active and working. They are capable of delivering all the MoU that we have signed.

Meanwhile Nigeria has recently signed power sector agreements with five giant investors including general electric of the US.

There are concerns over the state of these memorandums of understanding and other on-going investment agreements following the recent shake-up in the ministry.

Nnaji’s resignation: It’s hard to be a good man in Nigeria – Sam Omatseye

The Chairman of the editorial board of the Nation newspapers, Sam Omatseye Thursday said with the ‘sack’ of the former Minister of Power, Barth Nnaji it is difficult to be a good man in Nigeria.

Mr Omatseye, who was speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s programme, Sunrise Daily, said President Goodluck Jonathan as well as the Security agencies that cleared Mr Nnaji before his appointment as a minister already knew that he (Nnaji) owns a company that is interested in the power sector.

Nnaji says he resigned voluntarily

Former Minister of Power, Bart Nnaji, on Wednesday said that he voluntarily resigned his appointment to retain his integrity which he claimed has come under attacks.

Mr Nnaji made this known in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media, Ogbuagu Anikwe.

The statement said that Mr Nnaji “had to voluntarily resign the office of Minister to retain his integrity which has in recent days come under attacks by powerful vested interests that were hell bent on messing up the integrity and reputation that he has painstakingly built over the years.”

“This resignation is also to ensure that there is no spill over of these attacks to the president who is working very hard to transform the nation.”

He said that he stepped aside from all his private involvement before joining the federal government.

“I would like to reiterate that before I accepted to serve as Minister, I resigned my directorship of all companies that I had interest in and put my shares in those companies in a blind trust; this means that I was not privy to the day-to-day business decisions of those who ran this trust” he said.

According to the statement, the former Minister publicly declared the participation in the privatization process of a foreign company that did business with a company that he had interest in.

He explained that the fact came to his knowledge only during the course of evaluating the consortia that were bidding for PHCN successor companies, and that consequently, he also voluntarily recused himself from participating in the selection process. ”

Mr Nnaji said his resignation gives him the opportunity to go back to his integrated power projects which have been designed to accelerate the development of the nation.

He expressed his gratitude to President Goodluck Jonathan and to millions of Nigerians who supported him in his effort to improve the situation of public power supply in Nigeria in past 14 months when he served as minister of power.

Resignation brings credibility

Meanwhile, the Federal Government said the resignation of Mr Nnaji as the minister for power will give credibility to the privatisation programme going on in the power sector.

Briefing State House correspondents after this week’s  Federal Executive Council  meeting in Abuja, the Minister for Information, Labaran Maku said that investors all over the world will now be reassured that the federal government is serious with the process and will not allow issues of conflict of interest to undermine the process.

Mr Maku said that rather than discourage the administration and the investors the development will reinforce confidence of all in the process.


Why Nnaji resigned as Power Minister

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.

Power is improving throughout the nation – Barth Nnaji

The minister of power, Prof. Barth Nnaji,  was on Channels Television’s Sunrise, as he spoke on salaries earned by engineers, the pension fund and the ongoing crisis that has pitched the National Union of Electricity Employees against the federal government.

He said there appears to be no end in sight to the stand-off between union leaders of the PHCN and the power ministry.

The minister of power Barth Nnaji is insisting that the severance pay being offered to the workers is generous enough.

Understanding NSE Sharia-compliance index

Islamic wealth manager Lotus Capital and Nigeria’s bourse (NSE) on Monday launched a debut index of Nigerian Stock Exchange-listed companies that comply with centuries-old Islamic investment principles.

The NSE Lotus Islamic index, which covers 15 equities with combined market capitalisation of around 2.87 billion naira ($18 mln), excludes banks, companies with high levels of debt or leverage and other stocks that conflict with Islamic principles.

The stock exchange said the new index is designed to attract Sharia/ethical investors to Nigeria’s fledgling stock market, particularly those from the Middle East.

The new index is weighted towards fast moving consumer good, cement, oil marketing and manufacturing sectors and includes heavyweight Dangote Cement.

No sector will be allowed to account for more than 40 percent of the index, Lotus said, noting that the index will be reviewed every six months.