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.