BPE Fears Ownership Tussle over BEDC May Plunge Edo, Delta, Ekiti, Ondo into Darkness
Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
More than two months after the federal government appointed an interim chief executives for three electricity distribution companies (Discos) considered ‘non-performing’, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) has expressed concern that non-state actors allegedly engaged by the former board and managing director to disrupt the affairs of the Benin Distribution Company (BEDC) could plunge four states into darkness, if left unchecked.
The states which are Delta, Edo, Ekiti and Ondo are under the BEDC franchise.
In what they described as Business ‘Continuity Process’, the BPE and the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) had in July appointed interim Managing Directors for the BEDC, Kano Distribution Company and Kaduna Distribution Company, after announcing the takeover of the three ‘non-performing’ Discos by Fidelity Bank occasioned by, “the power investors’ poor financial performance.”
However, in a statement made available to THISDAY yesterday, the privatisation agency said it was monitoring events at BEDC, adding that it was aware that the Interim Board recognised that the NERC and the BPE had retaken operational control of the BEDC headquarters in Benin with the support of the authorities.
The statement issued by the BPE Director, Industries & Services, Yunana Jackdell Malo on behalf of the Director General, Alex Okoh read: “The BPE is monitoring the events at BEDC and is aware that the Interim Board recognised by the NERC and the Bureau has retaken operational control of the Headquarters in Benin with the support of authorities.
“The Interim Board already had financial control of the entity and the usage of non-state actors by the former Board and Managing Director to forcefully disrupt the affairs of the entity was unfortunate.
“The actions, if left unchecked risked plunging the citizens of Delta, Edo, Ekiti and Ondo (under the BEDC franchise) into darkness.”
The BPE recalled that Vigeo Holding, having defaulted on its loan and having collaterised their controlling shares had lost ownership in the entity.
It added that a restructuring action was announced on July 5, 2022, by it and the NERC for the Kano, Kaduna, Benin and Ibadan DiSCO franchises with Fidelity Bank stepping in to the Board and the appointment of an interim Management by BPE and NERC to stabilise the entities and avert any operational issues arising.
“The entities are to be transitioned from the banks control to more financially and technically competent private investors under a structured process being monitored by the National Council on Privitisation (NCP) (via the Bureau) and the Central Bank of Nigeria. While the restructuring action in Kano, Kaduna and Ibadan took place without issue, the Benin DiSCO restructuring had faced disruptions by the investors that were exited,” the statement stressed.
The BPE commended the professionalism and actions of the relevant security agencies that supported the operational takeover of the headquarters facility in Benin and the reinstatement of operational control of the same to the recognised interim board and management.
It assured that it would, alongside the NERC continue to monitor the Disco and work with the Ministry of Power and relevant law enforcement agencies to ensure no disruptions to service occur and that the interim board and management are allowed to proceed with their work unimpeded