James Emejo in Abuja
The sub-committee of the three standing committees of the House of Representatives investigating the sale of Power Holding Company of Nigeria’s (PHCN) non-core assets Monday said the country might have lost about N15 billion to the power privatisation programme.
The Chairman of the committee, Hon. Jonathan Gaza (PDP, Nasarawa), said the losses resulted from under-leasing, unauthorised sales, misappropriation of funds, abuses of process and outright negligence in the handling of non-core assets of the defunct PHCN.
He said many of the PHCN non-core assets, transferred to the Nigeria Electricity Management Company (NELMCO) were leased at undervalued rates, while others were “gifted out to distribution companies and some even diverted.”
Speaking at an investigative hearing, Gaza said: “It will interest you to note that a conservative investigation has revealed monumental losses to the government and the people of Nigeria in excess of about N15 billion as a result of under leases, unauthorised sales, misappropriation of funds, abuse of process and outright negligence.
“In consideration of the present financial and economic times, when the country is facing harsh realities caused by the recession, it has come of great concern to the House that on the transfer of assets, many of them are being leased at undervalued rates while others are gifted out to distribution companies and some even diverted.”
He said the panel would recover the lost revenues under the liquidation process and employ other measures to save the country from further financial losses.
He said: “In this regard, we shall in the course of the weeks ahead ensure that we diligently get through our action plan by critically looking into all issues pertaining the subject matte.”
Meanwhile, the Director General of the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE), Alex Okoh, told the panel that although the process for the sale of the non-core assets began sometime ago, it was put on hold due to non-approval from the National Council on Privatisation (NCP).
He said all due processes were followed in engaging the valuers for the assets sale and even got the approval from the vice president, even though they could not continue.
Nevertheless, Gaza maintained that the House would ensure accountability to Nigerians during the exercise.