The Chairman, Senate Committee on Power, Senator Gabriel Suswan, has said the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) has the right of first refusal to one of the 216 assets that the Nigeria Electricity Liability Management Company (NELMCO) is set to sell in three phases.

Suswan, who led the committee on its oversight to the building, which the power distributing firm uses as its Annex Office in Wuse 2, Abuja, explained that the building is one of the legacy buildings from the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).

He said the AECD has accepted that the property belongs to the Federal Government, which makes it part of the assets under the management of the NELMCO.

The chairman said since the AEDC occupies it, it has the right of first refusal to bid for the property.

He said: “One of the very important duty of the National Assembly is to oversight or monitor the activities of the other arms of government.

It is arising from that responsibility that we are here to oversight what we have been told by NELMCO; they told us that some were handed over to them when the company was incorporated and we need to be sure that they are telling us the truth.’’

So’ here is the assert of government that the privitisation was handed over. So, it is being occupied by Abuja Electricity Distribution Company which it is a private company and we are wondering why they are occupying government property.

“But the MD has told us why that they are supposed to be paying rent but because there is advert for sale they also have the right of first refusal and those are administrative issues that will be handled by the agency concerned NELMCO.”

And we are satisfied that the building is here and AEDC has accepted that the building belongs to government that they are tenants here until when they are able to procure it if they win the bid.”

Meanwhile, the Managing Director, AEDC, Mr. Ernest Mupwaya said the monthly rent on the asset is N40million. It implies that from the handover date of November 2013 to date, the company owes rent arrears of N3.2billion on the asset.

He said: “They (Senate Committee) are actually touring the assets that belong to NELMCO. We are occupying two of the assets and we are interested to procure them.

The rent that AEDC is owing NELMCO: the asset is N40million in a month. We are in talks with NELMCO and as part of showing seriousness. We intend to buy the place.”

Asked to state the total debt owed NELMCO as rent on the asset, the AEDC boss said: “You can multiply from the time of take over.”

NELMCO Managing Director, Mr. Adebayo Fagbemi, who was asked to confirm the rent arrears as state by Mupwaya, said he would be reluctant in answering the question since NELMCO has advertised the procurement of the two assets since 2018.

According to him, NELMCO is almost concluding the building process.

He explained that according to the Procurement Act, the assets are being sold out in phases because it has to offload as at the time of best of value.

He said it would be cumbersome to put everything in the market at the same time. He added that the government has to get the value at the current period.

Asked how many assets are in the market for sale, he said the non -core assets that were transferred to NELMCO were in phases.

He said: “The first phase of assets we are bringing for sale is 52, there is another second batch is 58 and the third batch we are working on now is 106.”

The committee chairman, however, advised the AEDC to meter its franchise areas where customers are fond of energy theft .

According to him, metering such areas will definitely reduce the company’s commercial losses.

Asked whether the Senate would consider reversing the privatization of the power sector, he said there are only normal teething problems in the sectors.

He ruled out the possibility of reversing the privatization exercise, noting that the lawmakers would rather enhance the perform of the sector.

He said: “The Senate is not pushing for the reversal of the privitasation as that will distabilise the economy and create issues of trust in the international community.

Rather we want to encourage the government to continue with the issue of privitasation as far as the power sector is concerned you know there are teething problems and those problems will not be reason for the review of the privitasation.

The privitasation was done and people have bought and all we can do is to try to make sure there is enhanced performance in the sector.”


Source: The Nation