- NIPPs power plant privatisation, others could be up for discussion
By Chineme Okafor in Abuja
Barring any unpredicted developments, board members of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), the parent firm of the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPPs), will for the first time in about three years, meet this week in Abuja to review the operational status of the firm, THISDAY has learnt.
It was gathered at the May 2018 edition of the monthly power sector operators’ meeting which held on Monday in Yola, capital of Adamawa State, that the board members which include representatives of the federal and state governments of the federation would meet on Thursday, where they are expected to take decisions that would move the operations of the NDPHC forward.
To this end, the Managing Director of the NDPHC, Mr. Chiedu Ugbo, and other top management of the company had in the last few weeks embarked on nationwide solidarity and familiarisation visits to representative state governors on the board.
Though not confirmed, the board of the company had never met since the government of President Muhammadu Buhari took over from former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
Ugbo and his management team have reportedly gone to see the governors of Anambra State, Mr. Willy Obiano, who sits on the board for the South-east; Adamawa State, Mr. Bindo Jibrilla, who represents the North-east; and Kebbi State, Mr. Abubakar Bagudu, who stands in for the North-west, ahead of the meeting.
They would however continue the familiarisation visits to Plateau, Edo and Lagos State Governors, Mr. Simon Lalong, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, and Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, in the weeks after the board meeting.
At the meeting in Adamawa where the Deputy Governor of the state, Mr. Martins Babale, stood in for Jibrilla, Ugbo explained that about 25 electricity distribution projects have been executed by the NDPHC to restore the distribution capacity in the North-east which has had the Boko Haram terrorist destroy most of the region’s power systems.
He noted that such projects include 15 1X7.5MVA 33/11kV injection substations and a 1X2.5MVA 33/11kV injection substation, all completed under NDPHC’s normal project schedule, as well as nine distribution intervention projects done in Maiduguri – Borno; Gujba, Gulani and Nguru – Yobe; Jabbi, Konar, Girei, Gashua, Dumne, Dirma and Tinde Laro Song – Adamawa; and Tafawa Balewa and Bogoro – Bauchi.
These distribution intervention projects, he stated, included the construction of 33kV lines and transformers in villages and towns within these states, as well as rehabilitation and reconstruction of power lines and infrastructure in Maiduguri.
THISDAY further gathered that at the scheduled board meeting, governors and board members of the company may canvass for the existing challenges of the NIPPs to be given expedited attention.
For instance, the planned privatisation of 10 power generation plants of the firm had been on hold for more than four years now on account of issues which include inadequate gas supplies to them and foreign exchange differentials amongst others.
The NDPHC had following the privatisation stalemate, reportedly continued to manage the plants albeit at high costs. It also does not get paid enough for the power it generates from the plants, and allegedly does not claim capacity payments from the electricity market.
Ugbo had in a 2017 interview granted to THISDAY, explained that the plants sell power to the grid at N18 per kilowatts hour as against the N25 that other generation companies sell to the grid.
He also noted then that three of the plants – 634 megawatts (MW) Calabar plant, 1,076MW Alaoji combined cycle plant, and 506MW Geregu plant were ready to proceed with their privatisation but that the firms would need the approval of its board to go ahead with that.
Though THISDAY could not confirm from him if this would be up for discussion at this week’s board meeting, it however gathered that it could be as well as a push by the governors to have NDPHC step up its distribution intervention projects across the country.
The financial challenges of the company, it was further learnt, would also be up for discussion at the meeting.
Additionally, Ugbo noted that the 11 electricity distribution companies (Discos) in the country were still refusing to take over some of the distribution facilities the NDPHC had built in their networks. It is expected that the meeting will address this.
He disclosed that so far, Nasarawa, Kano, Bauchi, Plateau and Kaduna States were amongst the states that have benefited from the first phase of its solar power projects which was planned to deploy 20,000 solar home systems mostly to homes in northern Nigeria.