Confab: Power Committee faults power privatisation as conference debates report

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ABUJA – The National Conference on Power on presented its report to the plenary a recommendation that the power privatisation process should be reviewed over observed lapses.

The committee, in its71-page report, noted that power was strategic to development and urged government to participate actively in its management.

It stressed that power should not be left entirely in the hands of the private sector alone.

The committee’s report was presented at plenary by its Chairman, Sen. Rashidi Ladoja, a former Governor of Oyo State.

The committee in its recommendations, observed: “The privatisation contracts between the Federal Government and GenCos and DisCos is observed to be on the brink of collapse.

“There is the need for an agonising re-appraisal of the whole contract as originally formulated.

“More transparency is needed in all future privatisation of the ’s assets. All parties to the agreement must respect agreements drawn up as part of any sale of public assets.’’

In his contributions, Brig. Gen. Jeremiah Temlong, criticised the power privatisation process and called for a commission of inquiry into it.

“I suggest that this honourable conference recommends that the whole privatisation exercise be probed. A judicial commission of inquiry should be set up to probe this privatisation process.

“Our common patrimony has been sold to people who are not able to manage them and who are friends and cronies of those in authority.

“They have not been able to put these privatised companies into optimal use. Rather, we have decreased output from the various DisCos now,” Temlong said.

Chief John Momah, remarked that “trying to compare the power sector with the telecommunication sector is illogical; the MTN has Airtel, Etisalat and Glo to contend with.

“However, there are no similar competitors in the power sector to compete with either in the generation or distribution.

“There should be alternatives to which customers can switch if they are not satisfied with the services they are getting.”

Similarly, Sen. Anthony Adefuye queried the continued sale of national assets to the same members of the public, saying “it is not healthy for the country.

“We have sold all these public assets to the same people.

“We sold the telecommunications to the same people; we sold the banks to the same people.

“We sold the insurance companies to the same people and we sold the hotels to the same people,’’ he said.

However, these positions were countered by a “point of observation’’ raised by Yusuf Abubakar who remarked that the power privatisation process was “very transparent’’.

“Everybody who has been in this country is quite aware of the privatisation process of the power sector. It is one of the most elaborate.

“It is there on record that everything was done clearly, transparently; everything was done openly before the public and the records are there for everybody to see.

“It is something that has been adjudged both locally and internationally as a very transparent process,’’ Abubakar said.

Chief Joshua Fumudoh, in his remarks, said that the committee’s observation that the power sector privatisation was on the brink of collapse was not substantiated.

“It is not right to make a wild allegation like that without substantiating it. I think if it cannot be substantiated, the recommendation should be deleted.

“I am surprised that the committee is making a recommendation to revisit the power sector privatisation.

“In their report, they had talked about the staggering losses and the inefficiencies that come with government involvement in businesses.

“And if we are beginning to work to correct that I do not see we should revisit it. We should not think of eating our cakes and having it,’’ he said.

NAN reports that the conference has commenced amending the recommendations and is expected to adopt the amended report.

The power committee report is the 11th that has been presented out of a total of 20  reports. (NAN)