Governors reject privatization of electricity distribution companies

The Governors of Edo, Delta, Ekiti and Ondo on Thursday rejected the announcement of Vigeo Power Distribution as the successful bidder for the Benin Distribution Company by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE).

The states are investors in the Southern Electricity Distribution Company which lost out in the bidding process.

The Chairman of the Technical Committee, National Council on Privatisation (NCP), Atedo Peterside, had on Tuesday during the opening of the commercial bids of the privatization of Power Holding Company of Nigeria, announced Vigeo as the successful bidder claiming the committee adopted Aggregate Technical Commercial and Collection loss Reduction as the basis for choosing the preferred bidder for the Benin Distribution Company.

In a press briefing after the announcement, Governors Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State and Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, told journalists that the process that led to the emergence of Vigeo Consortium lacks transparency.

It accused NCP of not judging by necessary parameters which include; technical competence, state participation, on the ground knowledge and financial competence.

The governors said:  “States were allowed to participate in the privatization exercise after exhaustive deliberations and consequent recognition of the value that the states were uniquely positioned to add to the success of the post privatization utilities mostly in the troubled areas particularly, the Niger Delta Region. Some of these include Right of Way, rural electrification, legislation against theft and vandalism, policing to improve collection.

“Our states have invested heavily in power generation, transmission and distribution across the length and breadth of our respective states as we recognized the importance of power as the pre-condition for socio-economic growth and industrialization of our states.

“We participated and came out as the most technically competent and have the consortium that is most suited to the peculiarities of our region.’’

“In our region, you cannot succeed in operating the utility without the participation of the state governments, on ground knowledge and relationship with different stakeholders such as youths, communities, leadership. Our consortium possesses all theses. Experts have said that Aggregate Technical Commercial and Collection losses as the singular basis for selecting the preferred bidder after qualifying technically was completely flawed. It is neither here nor there. It is simply arithmetic progression or statement which does not in any way demonstrate your ability to succeed post privatization.

On the question of whether the governors were considering litigation to restrain the BPE and the successful bidder, Governor Adams Oshiomhole responded that the company would not be allowed to operate in the states.

He added that “The technical qualification criteria also failed to take into consideration the peculiarities of the various discos, otherwise why would a company whose current service territory is 500 square kilometre be technically qualified to operate a 57,000 kilometre service territory in an area like the Niger Delta region without any local knowledge of this trouble area?

“BPE just allocated to companies that have big figures, you don’t reduce power to patronage, something you give to the boys, who are connected. It is a big shame. The whole process was riddled with corruption. The winner isn’t welcomed into our states; we will not allow it to operate in our state. He may be the one to go to court.

 

Jonathan promises free and fair Ondo elections

Ahead of the governorship election in Ondo state, south west Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan has reaffirmed the commitment of his administration to upholding the mantra of one-man-one-vote.

According to the president, who was in the state to drum up support for the PDP governorship candidate, Mr. Olusola Oke, the federal government will not fold its hands and permit thuggery to thrive during the governorship election.

He appealed to Ondo citizens to prevail upon their relatives and friends to prevent thuggery in the polls in order to protect Nigeria’s image in the international community.

On his part, the PDP candidate Mr. Oke promised transparent and accountable governance, industrialization and elimination of poverty in the state if elected.

Insecurity in Nigeria dominates Council of State meeting

The insecurity in Nigeria on Thursday was the issue that dominated the National Council of States meeting presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan at the State House in Abuja.

Present at the meeting were past Nigerian leaders including Shehu Shagari, Ernest Shenekan and Abdulsalami Abubakar as well as the governors of the 36 states of the federation or their deputies.

There was no formal briefing after the meeting but sources said that National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki briefed the meeting on security situation in Plateau state and the efforts being put in place so far to nip it in the bud as well as the situation in Mali and its effect on neighbouring countries including Nigeria.

The Belgore Report on constitutional matters and the National Honours list were also discussed during the meeting

The 36 state governors met last night in Abuja to take a common position on the incessant violence in parts of the country ahead of the council meeting.

Officials close to the forum said the governors were discussing the level of insecurity especially in the North, and were considering taking a common position ahead of the Council of State meeting.

The governors’ meeting was summoned in the wake of the latest bloodshed in Plateau State, where dozens of people were in killed in attacks on villages, which also led to the deaths of Senator Gyang Dantong and state legislator Gyang Fulani.

Last night’s meeting was held at the Rivers’ State Governors’ Lodge in Abuja.

The governors’ meeting was attended by governors of Katsina, Kaduna, Borno, Zamfara, Kebbi, Taraba, Jigawa, Kogi, Enugu, Delta, Lagos, Ekiti, Ondo, Ebonyi, Abia, Plateau, Rivers, Bayelsa, Anambra, Gombe and Adamawa states. Deputy governors of Kano, Nasarawa, Niger, Kwara, Ogun and Yobe states were also in attendance.

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EFCC arrests OSOPADEC boss

Mr. Debo Ajimuda, the chairman of the Ondo State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (OSOPADEC), was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for alleged corrupt practices.

The crime fighting body had arrested the chairman at his Ijapo residence in Akure, carting away bags of useful document evidence and 13 exotic cars.

According to reports, the EFCC staff had first sought out the elusive Ajimuda at his office, but were accosted by hostile employees who refused to let them go.

Commissioner of Police for the state, Garba Mohammed, had interfered in the skirmish, however, resulting in the release of the anti-graft agents who then made their way to the chairman’s residence.

The EFCC had been investigating Ajimuda’s activities, trailing him for two weeks before making their move. Ajimuda, as well as two other officials of the commission, are wanted by the EFCC over alleged criminal diversion and embezzlement of public funds, a source disclosed.

“Ajimuda claims to have spent N61.363billion between 2001 and 2011 but this is said to be a far cry from the over N100billion received by the commission within the same period.

“The petitioners alleged that the projects claimed to have been executed by the commission were either abandoned or do not exist at all.”

Head of Media and Publicity for the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed the arrests, saying Ajimuda needs to “clarify some issues”, including verifying whether projects budgeted for were actually executed.

The EFCC officials had reportedly arrived at his premises at about 6 a.m. on Tuesday and upon learning of their presence, Ajimuda had taken flight, scaling the fence of his property and hiding in an uncompleted building next door.

Ajimuda’s wife had tried covering his tracks as well, telling EFCC officials that he was not at home. However, the officials refused to leave the premises and set up surveillance around the premises to ensure he did not escape.

Tired of the wait, the OSOPADEC boss, clad in boxer shorts and a white undershirt, emerged from his hiding place at about 2:30 p.m. and was taken in by the officials.

Ondo State’s Commissioner for Information, Mr. Kayode Akinmade said the investigation of the EFCC was a step in the right direction, but was wary of the methods used to arrest Ajimuda.

He insisted that OSOPADEC boss should have been invited for questioning by EFCC officials first before a forceful arrest is made.

He said, “It is not proper for the anti graft agency to just invade the office and home of the OSOPADEC boss and arrest the man without any formal invitation.”

Akinmade welcomed the investigation, adding that the Commission had nothing to hide.