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Labour raises alarm over BPE illegal extension of DISCOs’ operating license

•Seeks stakeholders joint review of 5 yrs performance of firms

By Victor Ahiuma-Young

Organised Labour yesterday raised alarm over alleged illegal extension of the operating licenses of the Electricity Distribution Companies, DISCOs, by the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, in contravention of Power Privatization Act.

Speaking through the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, the Labour group called on the Federal Government not to renew the licences claiming that the DISCOs had operated with impunity and without conditions of service. They also warned that the Union and other Civil Society Organizations would not allow this situation to continue.

In a statement titled “Review of the Performance of Privatized DISCOs”, NUEE General Secretary, Joe Ajaero, contended that going by the five years tenure stipulated in the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, and Power Privatization Act, a final review of the performances of the DISCOs ought to have been concluded by October 31, 2018.

It argued that a recent statement credited to Director General of BPE, Mr. Alex Okoh, announcing December 31, 2019 as the final performance review date for the DISCOs negated the Performance Agreements which provides for a five year tenure stipulated in the MoU and Power Privatization Act during which the core investors in the DISCOs were required to fully achieve set targets.

electricity

The statement read, “It has become pertinent to draw the attention of Federal Government and General Public to the foundation being laid for the illegal extension of a 5 – year Performance review of Nine (9) out of Eleven (11) Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) in the country (with the exception of Kaduna and Yola DISCOs) by the Director General – Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr. Alex Okoh.

The Director General – BPE had in the press statement dated October 14, 2018 announced December 31, 2019 as the final performance review date for the above mentioned companies.

But NUEE’s statement says, “This is a negation of the Performance Agreements which provides for a Five (5) year tenure stipulated in the MOU and Power Privatization Act during which the core investors in the DISCOs are required to fully achieve far-reaching efficiency improvement target. The companies which have been due for final performance review since October 31, 2018 being the 5th Year anniversary of their take-over of the power assets have continued to illegally operate with flagrant disregard for the Power Privatization Act.

“We are worried that since the core investors took over the Privatized Electricity Assets on November 1, 2013, their performances have been abysmal with Nigerians bearing the burden of paying outrageous /estimated bills since they have refused to provide their customers with prepaid meters. A good number of them have carried out their operations within the period under review without Conditions of Service thereby turning the Workplace to slave Camps where workers are being disengaged without recourse to any law.

“Some of them like Egbin Power Plc and Enugu Distribution Company have been involved in stealing monies meant for the Unions. More disturbing is the involvement of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) being Government’s representative on the Board of these Companies who have not publicly declared a kobo profit as the Federal Government’s Stake in the Companies for the past five (5) years.

“Quite unfortunate that some of the DISCO companies have even gone to the extent of rejecting load from the National grid as wheeled by the Transmission Company yet nobody is checking this unholy act.

“In conducting unbiased periodic reviews of the performances of the DISCO/GENCOS companies towards the final review of their performances come November 31, 2018 the BPE should be excluded from mid-wifing the process; being members of the various Boards of these DISCOs. They cannot be umpires in their own games. We therefore call on the Federal Government of Nigeria not to renew the licences of Companies that have operated with impunity and without conditions of service as the Union and other Civil Society Organizations will not allow this dastardly act continue unabated.”

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