The Technical Committee of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP), which met yesterday to take a decision on the privatisation of the successor companies created from the unbundling of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), approved the successful bids of investors which made the August 21 payment deadline, but could not reach a conclusion on three others that missed it.
THISDAY gathered that though the Technical Committee, which is chaired by Atedo Peterside, approved the sale of Kainji Power Station, Egbin Power Station, Ughelli Power Station and Geregu Power Station to the successful bidders that met the payment deadline, it decided to recommend the late payment made by North-South Power Limited for Shiroro Power Station to the Legal Committee of the NCP for advice on the next course of action.
CMAC/Eurafric Energy Limited, which emerged as the preferred bidder for Sapele Power Station, has still not paid its balance of $30 million to the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) out of $150.75 million expected from the consortium on or before August 21 to complete payment of 75 per cent of the transaction value for the power plant.
In the same vein, the Technical Committee approved the successful bids for Eko, Ibadan, Port Harcourt, Benin, Ikeja, Yola, Jos and Abuja Distribution Companies (Discos), but also recommended Interstate Electrics Limited’s bid for Enugu Disco to the Legal Committee.
A source, who was privy to the meeting, said the Technical Committee was almost unanimous in its decision that Interstate Electric was the sole bidder that failed to pay a dime on or before the payment deadline and should therefore be disqualified so that the reserve bidder, Eastern Electric, could be invited to pay for Enugu Disco.
However, the source said the hands of the committee were tied because of the correspondence that had taken place between BPE and Interstate, which in the event of a lawsuit, could find the federal government liable for being in breach of the letters written by the privatisation agency to the bidder.
He said: “The committee was only made privy to the correspondence between BPE and Interstate Tuesday. The Director General of BPE (Benjamin Dikki), by corresponding with Interstate, and acquiescing to its pleas for more time to pay, was acting as an agent of government.
“It was as a result of this that the DG employed delay tactics in convening this meeting, which gave Interstate more time to finish paying for Enugu Disco last week Thursday or Friday.
“So our senior lawyers on the committee, including the Attorney General of the Federation and other Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) advised that we refer the matter to the Legal Committee of the NCP.”
He disclosed that Dikki had acted in bad faith by refusing to convene the meeting immediately after the August 21 payment deadline, but engaged in correspondence with Interstate and delay tactics, which has now tied the hands of the Technical Committee.
Information from This Day was used in this report.