Any Attempt To Sell Our National Assets Will Be Resisted – NLC

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) says it would resist an attempt to sell any of the national assets to foreign collaborators.

NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wahab stated this on Tuesday during the 12th Delegate Conference of the Congress in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

“NLC and the working-class movement have a well-documented position on privatisation.

We have resisted any form of privatisation and any of our assets to be privatised to individuals and their foreign collaborators will be resisted,” he stated.

The Labour leader also condemned reported the move to sell the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

NLC President, Ayuba Wahab

He believes the incessant industrial crisis experienced both in the health and education sectors is a deliberate strategy of some people in government to make the idea of privatization and sales of public assets in Nigeria appealing.

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Also speaking, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, stated that the Federal Government is determined to see to the welfare of Nigerian workers.

“Government is determined to attain the decent work agenda which involves the opportunity for works that are productive and deliver a fair income.

“May I also at this juncture assure the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress of government’s unalloyed support and cooperation towards the struggle for a better workers’ welfare which will invariably enhance the increased productivity and national growth.”

SERAP Asks FG To Investigate Privatisation Corruption Allegations

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP) has sent an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari requesting him to revisit allegations of corruption in the privatisation of public enterprises in Nigeria between 1999-2011.

The group in a statement on Sunday said President Buhari should refer the corruption allegation to the anti-graft agencies, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for further investigation.

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In the letter signed by its Executive Director, Adetokumbo Mumuni, the organisation urged the president to reform the Bureau of Public Enterprise, to remove opportunities for corruption in privatisation process, and to instruct the EFCC and ICPC to ensure the recovery of proceeds of corruption.

The group claims that many cases of presidential directives/interference during the period under review (1999-2011) affected the process of core investor selection.

“The BPE was negligent and ineffective in the monitoring of privatised companies. In some cases, BPE never monitored the companies for the entire lock-in period and in other cases, their reports were a complete opposite of what was on the ground.

“It is in the public interest that any sales of public assets will get the best value but the Senate report shows exactly the opposite. By revisiting the privatisation process and referring the allegations of corruption documented in the report to the EFCC and ICPC, your government would be demonstrating that it’s willing and able to fight impunity of perpetrators of corruption, which is responsible for legacy of grand corruption and abuse of office in the country,” the statement read in part.

SERAP claims that a total sum of N301billion was realised as proceeds of privatisation from 1999 to 2011.

“N900 million of that was used as loan to Nigeria Re-insurance Plc for recapitalisation, in violation of section 19(2) of the Public Enterprises (Privatisation and Commercialisation) Act 1999. Folio Communications Limited pledged the assets of Daily Times Nigeria Plc to obtain a loan from bank(s) and utilised the loan to pay for the share of the company.”

The group then threatened to begin a legal proceeding to compel the government to act if President Buhari does not take the requested action within 14 days of receipt of the letter.

FG Approves Privatisation Of Afam Power Plant

The National Council on Privatisation (NCP), chaired by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, has approved the commencement of the privatisation of Afam Power plants 1-5 to inject additional power into the national grid and improve electricity nationwide.

The Council during its recently held meeting also approved the pursuit of an out-of-court settlement involving the privatisation of Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON).

In a statement on Tuesday, Laolu Akande, the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, said the move aims to resolve the lingering dispute between the Federal Government, BFIG and United Company RUSAL through the mediation of the Secretariat with the active collaboration of the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.

The council during the meeting advised that “the mediation efforts should take a holistic view of the entire sector and the overriding national interests to jumpstart industrial development through the steel sector in arriving at a resolution on the matter.”

Immediate revocation of the concession of Lagos International Trade Fair Complex, and the immediate commencement of a fresh privatisation of Yola Electricity Distribution Company was also approved by the council, during the meeting.

These approvals, the council noted, were aimed at giving traction to key infrastructure facilities in the country that are presently under concessions, but have been adjudged to be performing sub-optimally.

Other key decisions taken by the council include the approval of the amendments to the Work Plan for the conclusion of the transaction involving the concessioning of Terminal “B” Warri Old Port and approval of commencement of the reform and commercialisation of the River Basins Development Authorities.

“The restructuring of the BOA is in alignment with the Government’s desire to make financing options readily available to farmers for an aggressive diversification of the Nigerian economy,” the council stated.

Fashola Tasks Distribution Companies To Raise Capital

FasholaThe Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola has asked power distribution companies to sell parts of their shareholdings to new investors to raise capital to sustain operations.

Power distribution firms complain of serious financial constraints due to heavy bank loans secured for the privatisation three years ago.

But according to the Minister, some of the options open to the power firms include special placement, offer for sale, initial public offering or bond flotation.

The federal government owns between 30 and 35 percent shares in all the privatised distribution companies.

Electricity Workers Urge Buhari To Probe PHCN Privatisation

electricityAggrieved disengaged workers of the Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company have called on President Muhammadu Buhari led government to  review  the privatisation of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) by the former administration.

The workers, under the umbrella of National Union of Electricity Employees, (NUEE), alleged that the privatisation project was fraught with irregularities and urged the federal government to revisit the exercise.

Addressing the aggrieved workers of the company on Saturday in Kaduna, Northwest Nigeria, Vice President of  the Union, Sikamta Ali criticised the management of Kaduna electricity of stopping workers from participating in union activities and introducing casualisation policy as against the Nigerian Labour laws.

The workers also argued that if after many months, privatisation of electricity in the country had failed to bring positive impact to electricity consumers, then there was need for President Buhari to revisit the programme.

They called on the management of Kaduna Electric to recall over one thousand staff  that were disengaged last month, and to also allow workers participate in union activities.

Spokesman for Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company, Abdulaziz Abdullahi said the casual workers were inherited from the former PHCN, with some of them are now fully employed in its workforce.

Technical And Economic Regulation Of Nigeria’s Power Sector

NERC Sam AmadiWith the ongoing reforms in Nigeria’s power sector, particularly the privatisation of generation and distribution companies, there are expectations of a truly liberalized market in which consumers will mostly pay for services that they enjoy, while service providers will strive for quality operations.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, was set up to undertake technical and economic regulation of this industry.

The commission is to license operators, determine operating codes and standards, establish customer rights and obligations and set tariffs.

NERC Chairman, Dr. Sam Amadi, is our guest on this edition of ‘View From The Top’.

NUPENG, PENGASSAN Reverse Strike Decision

The Trade Unions in the oil and gas sector would not be embarking on the industrial action, in protest of the Federal Government’s plan to sell the country’s refineries.

The leadership of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association PENGASSAN and NUPENG reached this decision after a 5-hour close door meeting with the Ministers of Petroleum and Labour.

Reading the communiques after the meeting, the Minister of Labour, Mister Emeka Wogu, said that Government would not sell the nation’s refineries.

In his reaction, the President of PENGASSAN, Babatunde Ogun told Channels Television that the agreement would serve as evidence to Nigerians that they (unions) are not trouble makers if the government decides to go back on its promise. He expressed confidence that the Federal Government can effectively manage the refineries if it makes the required investments and decisions.

“If government cannot keep to agreement, it means that government is not really serious…. If you are supposed to do something and you don’t do it for almost 10 to 14 years, then you cannot say government cannot run it (refineries),” he said, adding that “if they have challenges about funds, we can always look for funds.

Also, President of NUPENG, Igwe Achese said the “materials for the turn-around maintenance of the Port Harcourt refineries are on ground already and that’s why we are confident that in this first quarter, the Port Harcourt refinery turn-around maintenance will be concluded and then we can be thinking of the next one.”

FG Denies Plan To Sell Refineries

The reported approval by Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, for the sale of the nation’s four refineries has been denied by the Presidency.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, told journalists at the Presidential Villa that President Goodluck Jonathan has not given and does not plan to give approval to that effect.

The oil and gas workers unions had threatened to embark on a nationwide industrial action following the announcement that the four refineries had been slated for privatisation in 2014 by the Bureau for Public Enterprises, BPE.

Mr. Abati, however, dismissed the threat by the oil and gas workers, insisting that if the reason for the proposed strike is the issue of the refineries, then the action would not take place.

An attempt to sell the refineries was first made during the administration of former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, but the decision was reversed by his successor, the late President Umaru Yar’adua.

Also, a presidential committee set up by President Goodluck Jonathan in the wake of the corruption scandal in the oil and gas industry had recommended the sale of the refineries as a way to avoid the wastage of government funds.

There had been news that the President has approved the constitution of a steering committee chaired by the Minister of Petroleum Resources with 13 members including the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Minister of Power, Minister of Labour and Minister of National Planning, to oversee the privatisation process.

The national bodies of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), and the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas workers, (NUPENG) had announced plans by their associations to commence an industrial action in the first week of January 2014, if the Federal Government failed to rescind its alleged decision to privatise the refineries.

They claimed that the planned privatisation was an attempt to hand over the nation’s refineries to cronies of the Federal Government.

FG To Boost Power With 4,700 Megawatts In 2014 – Igali

On the background of the privatization of the power sector and the recent handing over of the physical assets to the co-investors, ‘View From The Top’ on Channels Television takes a look at the privatisation journey in Nigeria since the birth of the idea in 1999.

The programme on this edition plays host to the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Power, Ambassador Godknows Boladei Igali.

The focus is on the Nigerian power sector and the question is what is next after the handing over to investors?

With successive governments having failed to deliver on their promises of providing Nigerians with constant power supply, pessimistic views are still being expressed by many Nigerians on the possibility of a change in fortune.

Igali blamed the situation on the poor maintenance of public infrastructure and budget limitations. While also admitting that government is not the best manger of assets, he stressed that underinvestment in the sector has been the major factor behind the constant failure.

He said: “Government is not formed to manage business. Power sector is a business, and government’s role should be that of providing leadership, direction, regulation and allow the businessmen to do business.”

He credited the latest successful handover to the proactive efforts of President Goodluck Jonathan. According to him, he “energized and reactivated the process” which fast tracked the public competitive bidding processes.

Ambassador Igali also spoke in details about the efforts being made by the Federal Government to sustain the privatisation structure and the infrastructural development plans.

He also encouraged Nigerians to have faith in the system.

Okupe Assures Of Uninterrupted Power Supply Before Year End

The Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan, Doyin Okupe has assured again that the era of shortage in power supply in most part of the nation will come to an end before the end of the year, as uninterrupted power supply which is the dream of any citizen of any country; Nigerians inclusive will become a reality in Nigeria.

Addressing a news conference in Abuja, Okupe explained further that on the issue of achieving uninterrupted power supply in Nigeria, the president is not resting on his oars to see that it becomes a reality, but expressed disappointment that the highly transparent and professional manner in which President Jonathan handled the privatization of the power sector is lost on the public in spite of the commendations of the global business community especially international investors.

He said the new owners of the divested assets of Power Holding Company of Nigeria will utilize the presently installed capacities more efficiently and add more power to the 5,000 megawatts already being generated by the country.

Committee Will Work With Executive On Privatised Assets– Sen. Olugbenga

The Senate Committee on Privatisation is looking at ways it can work with the executive arm of government to make sure that all the privatised enterprises are taken through international standards best practiced.

This is the information conveyed by Senator Olugbenga Obadara;  the Chairman Senate Committee on Privatisation, while he was guest on Business programme Business Morning live from the Abuja studios.

The Federal Government has come under so much pressure when it comes to the way the disposition of government’s assets which in the view of some Nigerians would be better managed by entrepreneurs or the private sector.

The senator said the senate committee on privatisation is making sure that due diligence are being taken and rules be adhered to thoroughly, as this will make sure the nation is not short-changed in anyway.

Watch complete interview for more details.

Fuel subsidy must be scrapped for refineries to work – study

The Federal Government will struggle to attract the investment it needs to get its refineries working unless it scraps a fuel subsidy that keeps domestic gasoline prices artificially low, a government commissioned report seen by Reuters on Wednesday said.

The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke ordered the report earlier this year in a bid to find solutions to fix Nigeria’s three refineries, which operate at only 20 percent capacity.

Despite being among the world’s top 10 crude oil exporters, the country imports 80 percent of the fuel it needs, using a state subsidy scheme that loses billions of dollars to graft.

The unpublished report leaked to Reuters said current plans to repair dilapidated refineries will most likely fail, because the government will struggle to mobilise funds and vested interests will try to thwart its efforts.

It proposes that the Federal government privatise its refineries, as it is doing with its also moribund power sector, but warned that getting investment will be a tall order while motor fuel prices remain controlled.

“The regulated pricing policy of the Federal Government for petroleum products is the most widely adduced single reason by prospective investors for the lack of investment in new refineries in Nigeria in recent years,” the report said.

It was presented to President Goodluck Jonathan earlier this month but never published. President Jonathan attempted to remove the popular fuel import subsidy in January, but a week of strikes and protests forced him to partially reinstate them.

Many Nigerians see cheap fuel as the only benefit they get from living in an oil rich state.

The report was among a raft of committees set up in the wake of January’s protests. They include a probe into oil and gas production leaked to Reuters last month that showed Nigeria lost billions of dollars in cut price deals with oil majors.

The latest one said Nigerian refineries were the worst in Africa at using their capacity, which is officially 445,000 barrels per day. Ms Alison-Madueke said in October that Nigeria would spend $1.6 billion on turnaround maintenance to get the refineries operating at 90 percent capacity by 2014.

“Laudable as the (plans) may be, they are not likely to deliver the necessary solution,” the report said, adding it was doubtful the government would be able to raise that money.

“In the event that the work gets going, it will be very difficult to steer it clear of obstructive political and bureaucratic influences,” it said.

Analysts say previous attempts to get refineries going in Africa’s top energy producer have been held back by vested interests such as fuel importers profiting from the status quo.

Several contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars have been given to companies doing maintenance on Nigeria’s refineries over the last 15 years but with little impact on output.

“They have not operated as performance-oriented businesses and are plagued with severe plant integrity issues,” the report said. A parliamentary probe in April found that graft in the fuel subsidy scheme cost Nigeria $6.8 billion in three years.

The report said in order for the refineries to work government should sell at least 51 percent of its share in the operations to competent private partners, which it said could restore them to 90 percent capacity by 2016.

It also said the government must “rise up to its responsibility” to protect pipelines from rampant oil thieves, which by some estimates drain a fifth of its output.