The Chairman, Presidential Task Force on Power, Engr. Beks Dagogo-Jack, Saturday dismissed the report of a N24 billion fraud purportedly uncovered in the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) slated for privatisation.
Responding to a newspaper report (not THISDAY) which quoted the Minister of State for Power, Hadjia Zainab Kuchi, as saying that the task force had foiled a N24 billion fraud in PHCN, Dagogo-Jack said the minister was misquoted because no fraud like that was established by the Task Force.
The chairman, in an interview, told THISDAY that he strongly believes that the Minister of State was misquoted, saying “I was there. Let me clarify to avoid the alarm being raised. We cannot afford to have unnecessary distractions whilst solving a national power emergency. The honourable minister made mention of N24billion quoting her Permanent Secretary and explaining that this figure represents the total cost of projects recently requested for by the transmission company in order to correct the weaknesses in that segment. She then alluded that if, indeed as it appears, most of the items contained in that project list can be found in these stores, then the country would be saving billions of money. “
The task force chairman confirmed that his team is now in charge of recovering all over-stayed and abandoned containers of power equipment at the nation’s ports , which will be opened , inventoried, matched to needing projects and delivered to project sites under full military escort provided by the Army Corps of Engineers.
He further stated that in order to make the best use of the nation’s central store items and stop the past wasteful process of importing equipment and letting them rot away at great loss to government, his committee had also taken control of all the major transmission equipment stores nationwide such that whilst newly arriving imports can be received, only items properly requested for project sites validated by the task force shall be permitted to leave the stores.
“What I can tell you is that all the items in these stores will be fully accounted for from now on and we shall make sure they are all deployed for the completion of ongoing projects and we shall ensure that government money will not be used to buy for a second time any items we have in this store until we have used up the store items.”
The chairman explained that at this critical stage of the nation’s reform transition, any false alarm on power making the front pages has the potential of confusing the international financial institutions who are preparing to provide billions of dollars in support of the winning bidders to take the reform to the next level.