Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan
By Sunday Okobi
The Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, has solicited the intervention of the National Assembly to checkmate the process adopted by the Federal Government in the sale of the distribution companies (discos) carved out from the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), saying they may fall into the wrong hands.
Uduaghan, alongside his counterparts in Edo, Ondo and Ekiti States last week had condemned the sale of the Benin Distribution Company Limited, describing the process conducted by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) as fraudulent and lacking in transparency.
The four governors had warned Vigeo Power Consortium, which had emerged the preferred bidder after the commercial bid opening, to stay away from their states.
Uduaghan, who made the call when the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) Sector led by its chairman, Hon. Dakuku Peterside, paid him a courtesy call in Asaba, expressed worry that the companies would go into wrong hands.
According to him, a situation where the communities and states directly affected are sidelined does not portend well for the people and certainly would not make for peace in the areas.
The governor said that the shoddy sales process conducted by BPE that was fraught with fraud was bound to throw up incompetent hands that would not be able to deliver as expected.
He said the National Assembly should intervene to ensure that due process was followed taking into cognisance the huge investments of state governments in PHCN.
The governor, who said that the privatisation exercise should be done properly, regretted that what has been done could create more problems for the country.
Uduaghan appealed to the authorities not to allow politics to take away the essence and need to provide regular power supply to the people, stressing the need for the roles played by the states in the energy sector to be acknowledged and the states compensated.
Emphasising further, he said: “State governments play a crucial role in the energy sector, with the provision of transformers, setting up the network of electric lines.
“The governors are deeply concerned over the power situation and when the chips are down, it is the state governments that communities run to for transformers among other equipment.”
He recalled that the nation experienced similar challenges in the petroleum sector when some oil wells were sold without involving the communities and the states, noting that the result was that most of them could not access the wells to operate.
He cautioned that unless the power privatisation process was properly addressed, what happened in the oil/gas sector could repeat itself.
The governor, who disclosed that he was one of the three governors who addressed a press conference last week on the issue, stressed the need for states to be involved in the exercise.
His words: “I want states that play prominent roles in the distribution of electricity to their various communities to be accommodated in the privatisation process because when there is a problem, it is the state governments that communities will appeal to for the provision of electricity.”
In his remarks, Peterside said the committee was in the state to oversee the implementation of the 2012 budget.
He said the routine oversight function was necessary to check what was being done with funds and ascertain whether projects earmarked for the state were executed.
He explained that Delta State was strategic in the oil industry and should therefore not be ignored in the implementation of projects and programmes.
The chairman, who described Delta State as the preferred destination for investors, commended the governor for the giant strides he had recorded in the state.