Governor Peter Obi
Fresh facts have emerged that the five states in the South-east geopolitical zone teamed up to acquire the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC), one of the 17 firms created out of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), listed for privatisation to change the abysmal electricity infrastructure in the zone.
THISDAY gathered that South-eastern Governors, led by Peter Obi of Anambra were concerned that years of erratic power supply in the zone had crippled commercial activities in the industrial cities of Aba in Abia State as well as Nnewi and Onitsha, both in Anambra State.
The zone, believed to be among the areas in the country that have the worst electricity facilities, had in recent years been experiencing de-industrialisation, a development, which prompted the five states to float the Eastern Electric Nigeria Limited (EENL) Consortium, one of the firms that submitted bids for the Enugu Disco.
A source privy to the deal noted that though the South-eastern governments were a minority group in the consortium because of the ownership restrictions imposed by the Federal Government on state governments in the acquisition of PHCN distribution
companies in their domain, the power project was actually initiated by Obi, who is chairman of the South-east Governors’ Forum.
Obi had vide a letter dated July 20, 2012, reaffirmed the states’ membership of EENL and their continued interest in the acquisition of the Enugu Disco.
The letter with reference no- SEGF/S/GOVS/INT/1/017, titled: “Partnership with Eastern Electrics Nigeria Limited” obtained by THISDAY read: “We, the five Southeastern state governments, wish to reaffirm our membership of the EENL Consortium and the continued interest in the proposed acquisition of the Enugu Disco. Kindly note that due to the limitations imposed by the federal government, we intend to maximise the investment opportunity in the Enugu Disco, in line with the terms and conditions, originally agreed to between us and EENL. We therefore request continued update from the consortium regarding the privatisation generally and the EENL’s acquisition strategy for the Enugu Disco”.
The source said contrary to impression that the deal was “one-man show”, the South-eastern governors were behind the EENL.
He clarified: “The five state governments are actually initiators of the consortium, but they are a minority group in the consortium because of the ownership restrictions imposed by the federal government on all state governments in the acquisition of PHCN distribution companies in their areas”.
He explained that the governors had approached the founder of Diamond Bank, Pascal Dozie to lead the electricity project because of his excellent standing in the business community and his prominent role in the development of their zone.
“It was Dozie who brought on board people like Chairman of Nestoil and director of Julius Berger Plc, Dr Ernest Azudalu, also a minority stakeholder in the consortium. The group then hired Aba Power Project as the leading consultant because of its rich experience in the South-east as the developer of the integrated electricity project in Aba, which will be commissioned in October. Aba Power Project is now a minority stakeholder in the consortium”, the source said.
He added: “ Like his brother governors in the forum, Obi believes that that the ongoing privatisation of PHCN assets offers the people the best opportunity to change the abysmal electricity infrastructure in the zone”.
According to him, in mobilising his colleagues in other states for the project, Obi had asked them to learn from the establishment of Orient Petroleum plc in Anambra State under the leadership of erstwhile governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju.
“The Anambra state government created and promoted the petroleum firm, which will start crude oil production next year and refining of petroleum products the year after, but it is a private sector company, which has on the board prominent persons like former Vice President Alex Ekwueme, former United Nations Ambassador Arthur Mbanefo and ex Commonwealth Secretary General Emeka Anyaoku, who is the chairman”, he stressed.