Reps to re­open al­leged $1.348b power fraud probe

Gencos claim non-pay­ment since June, NBET dis­agrees

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - FRONT PAGE - From Adamu Abuh, Abuja

THE House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives could re­open the probe into an al­leged $1.348 bil­lion power sec­tor fraud lev­elled against Gen­eral

Elec­tric (GE) and Rock­son En­gi­neer­ing Nige­ria Ltd.

The is­sue, which has lin­gered for years, will not be swept un­der the car­pet, vowed chair­man of the House Com­mit­tee on Power, Dan Asuquo, in an in­ter­view at the week­end.

He ex­pressed sur­prise that the au­thor­i­ties have not yet taken ac­tion on find­ings by rel­e­vant com­mit­tees of the pre­vi­ous Na­tional Assem­bly, in­sist­ing the leg­is­la­ture would push for the re­fund of the al­leged stolen money.

“The Na­tional Assem­bly has done its work. It has come out with a re­port. The re­port is there for any­body to see and use. If you talk about Rock­son, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with GE, they have is­sues of which Nige­ri­ans should ask ques­tions. If some­body is not per­form­ing, the law is there.

“We can­not pro­mote the fleec­ing of tax­pay­ers’ money. If some­body is ir­re­spon­si­ble, the law is clear; you black­list and ter­mi­nate, as long as you’ve kept your own part of the con­tract. We will call for that re­fund, if that mag­ni­tude of pad­ding, waste and cor­rup­tion has been done,” said Asuquo.

The al­le­ga­tion, which came via a signed pe­ti­tion by about 10 civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions and dated Septem­ber 26, 2018, was re­ceived by the of­fice of the act­ing chair­man of the Eco­nomic and Fi­nan­cial Crimes Com­mis­sion, Ibrahim Magu, on Septem­ber 27, 2018.

Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari had re­cently won­dered how a for­mer govern­ment al­legedly spent $16 bil­lion on the sec­tor with­out results. He also ac­cused the Na­tional Assem­bly of not ex­er­cis­ing ad­e­quate over­sight on the sec­tor.

The two com­pa­nies were black­listed in a 2008 House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives re­port.

The As­so­ci­a­tion of Power Gen­er­a­tion Com­pa­nies (APGC) mean­while said since June 2018, power Gen­er­a­tion Com­pa­nies (Gencos) have not re­ceived pay­ment from the Nige­rian Bulk Elec­tric­ity Trad­ing Plc (NBET) for elec­tric­ity gen­er­ated.

APGC’S Ex­ec­u­tive Sec­re­tary Dr Joy Ogaji dis­closed this in an in­ter­view with the News Agency of Nige­ria (NAN) in Abuja yes­ter­day. Ac­cord­ing to her, Gencos were be­ing owed N500 bil­lion for power gen­er­ated from 2013, when they took over elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion, to De­cem­ber 2016.

She said: “The Gencos debt is clas­si­fied into about three cat­e­gories. So, when you are talk­ing about debts, be­fore even NBET came, mar­ket op­er­a­tors owed Gencos. If you cal­cu­late all that debt from 2013 to De­cem­ber 2016, GenCos’ debt was about N500 bil­lion. This debt that we are talk­ing about is with­out in­ter­est, be­cause the Power Pur­chase Agree­ment (PPA) says if they de­lay pay­ment, Gencos are en­ti­tled to in­ter­est. So, this amount is with­out in­ter­est. It does not also cover the cost for avail­able ca­pac­ity.”

She said fur­ther: “Gencos make ca­pac­ity avail­able. So, the power that is be­ing re­jected… it does not cover that one, be­cause that is a dif­fer­ent cost. From 2017, NBET, through Fed­eral Govern­ment’s Pay­ment As­sur­ance Guar­an­tee, has only been pay­ing 80 per cent and there is 20 per cent short­fall till date. And for this year, since June, we have not been paid.”

On Gencos meet­ing their obli­ga­tion on pay­ment to gas com­pa­nies, Ogaji noted: “Gencos have been tak­ing loans from banks to be able to meet their obli­ga­tions in the mar­ket and put power on the grid. When we don’t gen­er­ate, we are called sabo­teurs. They will start say­ing that the own­ers of the Gencos are PDP mem­bers; that is why they are not gen­er­at­ing. But the govern­ment is not look­ing at the cost im­pli­ca­tion of put­ting power on the grid and you are not pay­ing for it. There is no busi­ness per­son that will want to con­tinue busi­ness when he is not get­ting any­thing on it. And upon that you are be­ing ac­cused that you are a sabo­teur.”

The APGC ex­ec­u­tive sec­re­tary how­ever said Gencos were en­gag­ing NBET on the mat­ter.

But the Head Cor­po­rate Com­mu­ni­ca­tion of NBET, Mrs. Hen­ri­etta Ighom­rore, de­scribed the al­leged non­pay­ment since June as in­ac­cu­rate. Gencos have al­ways re­ceived their pay­ment as at when due, and at no time did NBET with­hold pay­ment to Gencos, she said.

“NBET does not re­tain any money. Ev­ery money we re­ceive from the Dis­cos, we im­me­di­ately pay it to the Gencos to set­tle their in­voices,” she ex­plained, stress­ing it is im­por­tant to un­der­stand how pay­ments are made in the elec­tric­ity mar­ket.

“For in­stance, if you have Jan­uary’s in­voice, that in­voice will be com­ing to you around the end of Fe­bru­ary or early March. The gen­er­at­ing com­pa­nies gen­er­ate and then they send to us and then we send to the Dis­cos. At the end of the month, the Mar­ket Op­er­a­tor (MO) will read the me­ter and then raise the mar­ket set­tle­ment state­ment.”

A mo­torist and oth­ers wad­ing through flood af­ter a heavy rain­fall at Sango-ota, Abeokuta road, Ogun State, at the week­end.

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