Bolanle Onagoruwa, BPE’s Director General
By Yemi Adebowale
Some of the Nigerian firms which failed to meet the July 31 deadline for the submission of technical and financial proposals for the privatisation of the 11 distribution companies (Discos) created from the unbundling of Power Holding Company of Nigeria have appealed for an extension of the deadline "in order to ensure transparency."
The Bureau of Public Enterprises had on Tuesday, after the deadline set, announced that it had received 54 bids from potential investors interested in the privatisation exercise of the Discos.
But the Nigerian firms that failed to meet the deadline have written a protest letter to Bolanle Onagoruwa, BPE’s Director General, urging her to accommodate their bids by extending the deadline set for submission by one week.
In the letter dated August 1, 2012, the firms who were pre-qualified argued: "The deadline for the submission of the bids for the Discos was 5pm on 31 July, 2012 for which various consortium (along with other bidders) missed the deadline by seven minutes with very valid reasons which we kindly request that you consider in order to extend the deadline.
"First, the conditions for the bid were constantly being changed by the personnel managing the process for the Bureau and this was evidenced by the multiple deadlines set by the Bureau. With every change came the onerous tasks of adjustments and re-strategizing and the consequent toll it took on the companies participating.
"Secondly, there were no multiple collection centres (e.g. London, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano) that were opened for the collation of the bids as would have been expected for investments of this magnitude and importance. This is quite atypical to what is obtained in the Energy sector, particularly oil & gas industry."
They argued further that it was pertinent to accommodate all those that missed the deadline, "if the federal government’s intention is to ensure primarily that the power sector becomes vibrant again by allowing the participation of credible Nigerian companies who have demonstrated genuine capacity to deliver and excel in the face of daunting economic challenges in the country."
The CEO of one of the firms which missed the deadline queried: "Many Nigerian companies participating in the bid were a few minutes late and could not submit their bids.
Why were they not allowed to submit their bids given that they came just within 10 minutes after the set deadline and given that they had to travel into Abuja under difficult traffic conditions?
"If the government is serious about getting electricity to the people, then the government must allow credible Nigerian companies with pedigree to participate and not cut them off on a flimsy excuse of 10 minutes lateness."
The protesting firms said since the bids have not been opened and would not be opened until the 14th of August, 2012, "an extension of one week would not totally affect the process to the extent of jeopardising it."
As a result, they called on Onagoruwa to "use your good office at the Bureau to extend the bid submission deadline to 06 August, 2012 in order to allow for the participation of all companies who have been cut off by this minor time irritation so that the Bureau is not only fair but also seen to be fair."
In a further analysis to justify why the extension is pertinent, the protesting firms said: "Of the 111 pre-qualified bidders for the PHCN Successor Distribution Companies, only 54 bidders successfully submitted their bids within the timelines, a submission rate of just 49 percent.
"Global standards suggest that for such a process to be considered effective, successful and truly competitive, at least a 60 percent submission rate should be recorded in a best case scenario (worst case: 50 percent)."
But the BPE on Thursday released the list of the 54 companies that met the deadline for submission.
Topping the list are firms such as Rockson Engineering Ltd, Honeywell Energy Resources, Masters Energy, Integrated Energy Distribution and Marketing Ltd, and NAHCO Energy and Power Ltd.
The discos slated for privatisation are: the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company Plc; Benin Electricity Distribution Company Plc; Enugu Electricity Distribution Company Plc; Eko Electricity Distribution Company Plc; Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company Plc; Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company Plc; Jos Electricity Distribution Company Plc; Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company Plc; Kano Electricity Distribution Company Plc; Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company Plc; and Yola Electricity Distribution Company Plc