HURIWA Urges Buhari Not to Renew Manitoba’s Power Contract

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The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari not to renew the contract for electricity power management services entered into with Manitoba Hydro International of Canada over the alleged failure of the Canadian firm to deliver on the terms of contract, leading to the abysmal electricity power situation in the country.

HURIWA through its national coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko and the Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, also urged President Buhari not to undermine his proposed power sector legacy for Nigerians by handing another contract to a company that has performed woefully and breached all extant contractual agreements.
The group further stated that the company has consistently drained Nigeria of the much needed foreign exchange because of a nebulous provision in their contract that stipulates payment of their consultants in foreign denominated currencies.

The group noted that the federal government handed over the TCN to MHI to improve the skills and inculcate best practice in transmission service management, adding however these expectations had not been met.
“What has happened in this ugly management contract is not different from what happened with Virgin Nigeria deal,” the group added.

“Firstly, it has come to bear that Manitoba Hydro International did not send any of her experienced staff to TCN as MHI in Canada claimed that they are not part of the Management Contract. This clearly means that a group of business men are merely using the MHI name and probably paying royalty. No wonder most of them are recruited from Asia and have not had a touch of MHI Canada before coming to Nigeria,” the group said.

“The government was in a haste to award the contract without due diligence, believing that the so-called MHI’s presence in TCN would attract investors but how many have come at the instance of MHI,” the group added.
It alleged that there was no fit-for-purpose interview/test carried out to check the academic qualifications and requisite experience of the MHI who came to lead Nigerian engineers.

“In almost every country, if you are not a registered engineer, you will not be allowed to work in an engineering firm as a management staff. In Nigeria, without due regards to the Professional Bodies regulations, the authorities employ foreign professionals. Most of them come in with forged credentials knowing that they would not be checked or their claimed qualifications crosschecked and investigated,” HURIWA explained.

The group also alleged that the security agencies were not given any opportunity to carry out security checks on the MHI staff, given the prevailing global security threats.

On the issue of fitness and experience, the group further stated that the Chief Executive Officer of TCN, who was appointed by MHI, Mr. Mac Kast is over 70 years old “and knows next to nothing about engineering profession.”
“He is said to be an accountant. The one that left before him, Mr. Paul Stefisyn, is an OND certificate holder –spreadsheet analyst and not a technical person. When this came to the open, MHI quickly asked him to resign. Is this not a big insult to a great nation like Nigeria with the largest transmission network in Africa,” said the group.

HURIWA also revealed that in their first three years, MHI had their entire staff turned over about five times, adding that the average stay of each staff is about four months.

“Each of them travels outside the country every month. The frequency of their in-and-outis very unhealthy for any meaningful impact on the job, assuming they have anything to offer, and also not conducive for any reasonable transfer of skills, if any, to the Nigerian staff. Unfortunately nobody supervises them. They do what they like and no checking by anybody. They hate and put to the background any staff that raises any question,” HURIWA added
The group also faulted the company’s key performance indices (KPI), saying that most absurd is the lack of the KPIs to appraise their performances.

According to the group, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has stated that it was not aware of the KPIs upon which the fourth year renewal of MHI contract was based.