Stakeholders, including civil society groups, yesterday called for the probe of how Integrated Energy Distribution and Marketing Limited, owned by former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, emmerged as winner in the bid for the nation’s four electricity distribution companies.
The firm was on Tuesday declared the core investor and highest bidder for Eko Electricity Distribution Company Plc, Ikeja Electricity Distribution Plc, Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company Plc and Yola Electricity Distribution Company Plc.
The first three are located in what can be described as the prime zones in the nation’s electricity corridor.
The President-General of the Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies, SSAEAC, Mr. Bede Opara, doubted the transparency of the process.
He said: “At first, the government disclosed that it was interested in selling 51 per cent, so that other Nigerians, including workers can also have stakes in the privatised companies. Now we are hearing that it is 60 per cent.
“From all indications, it is like the government just assembled a team to share our national assets to influential Nigerians.
“We are not worried because the firms are being privatised. We are worried because Gen. Abubakar never had interest in the sector even as Head of State.”
“Let the former Head of State show us one power station he constructed during his tenure. We challenged him to show us one station he built to show his interest in the power sector,” he said.
Opara, whose group and others have the support of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, said that the sector might go the way of failed privatised firms, including Daily Times.
He said the fate of the privatised power firms would not only affect workers in the sector but also Nigerians and foreign nationals who would be made to pay more for electricity.
The Trade Union Congress, TUC, also doubted the transparency of the process.
TUC Head of Media and Publicity, Mr. Chris Onyeka, said the emergence of the company as the core investor for the firms showed that the process might not have been transparent and fair to all parties.
He said: “The TUC is in support of privatisation because we hope that it would better management of national assets to benefit of the nation and its people. But the way it is being done now is not what we expected.
“It is unfortunate for the firms to go to Abubakar because he is not known to be a businessman. He is more known as a soldier than an investor. This partly explains why some people wonder what actually motivated him to go into business.”
Onyeka said TUC is ready to partner with some other stakeholders, especially the National Assembly to ensure the process is reviewed for Nigerians to understand how the company managed to emerge as the core investor for the companies.
Reacting to the choice of the firm, Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim, described the exercise as failing to meet the minimum standards of due process and transparency.
He noted that in view of the magnitude of the taxpayers’ money that were committed to the distribution companies, the National Council on Privatisation, NCP, should have allowed a more participatory approach that would have enabled Nigerians to know who was acquiring what at how much.