BY STANLEY OPARA
Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo | credits: www.austinaija.com
The plan by the Federal Government to privatise the Transmission Company of Nigeria is mired in uncertainty as there appears to be no road map yet for the transaction.
Consultations meant to prepare the ground for the process, our correspondent learnt, were currently not holding.
Over nine months after the plan to privatise the transmission segment of the power industry was made public by the Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, it was gathered that some government agencies that would be instrumental to fast-tracking the process had yet to be briefed by the Federal Government.
It was further learnt that the National Council on Privatisation was unaware of the plan to turn over the transmission backbone to private sector investors.
The failure to carry the NCP along, our correspondent learnt, meant that the transaction advisers for the sale process had not been appointed as such could not happen without the council deciding on the sales method.
The Chairman, Technical Committee, NCP, Mr. Atedo Peterside, told our correspondent in a telephone interview that he was not aware of the move to sell the TCN to private investors.
“I don’t know anything about it. If I know, of course, I will tell you,” he said.
The NCP is the apex body charged with the responsibility of formulating and approving policies on privatisation and commercialisation of public enterprises.
It determines the political, economic and social objectives of privatisation and commercialisation of public enterprises, and approves guidelines and criteria for valuation of such enterprises for privatisation, and the choice of strategic investors.
The council also approves the legal and regulatory framework for the public enterprises to be privatised, determines the mode of sale of shares of a listed public enterprise and advises the Federal Government accordingly.
Responding to enquiries from our correspondent, a spokesperson for the Bureau of Public Enterprises, Mr. Alex Okoh, said the current review of the power sector by the Federal Government had slowed down the process of privatising the TCN.
“As you are aware, the government is currently reviewing the power sector. After the review, the TCN privatisation process may begin,” he said.
Nebo had in July last year said the Federal Government was considering three options for the privatisation of the TCN.
The options, according to the minister, are full privatisation, regional privatisation and concession of the TCN to private investors.
Nebo described as massive the inflow of potential investors from all over the world into the country for the proposed privatisation of the TCN.
The minister, who did not give a tentative date when the privatisation process would begin, said the Federal Government was overwhelmed with the interest shown by investors, but would outline the process schedule in due course.
In October last year, the President General, Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies, Mr. Bede Opara, said the power sector labour unions would move against the planned privatisation of the TCN by lobbying members of the National Assembly not to support such a move.
Some labour chiefs had told our correspondent then that their opposition to the privatisation of the company was because the agreement they reached with the government on the power sector privatisation did not include the TCN.
The unions also pointed at the poor state of the privatised power generation and distribution companies as a justification for their opposition to the sale of the transmission company.
Opara had said, “We can’t mortgage our transmission lines to the private sector; more especially as the Discos and Gencos privatised almost one year ago are having serious financial issues. Privatising the TCN is not good for the country. The private sector has not improved our generation capacity, or even our distribution infrastructure.
“We will advise the government to tread with caution as far as the privatisation of the TCN is concerned. We will explore all avenues within our reach to pass our message across.”