A gale of disquiet yesterday greeted an exclusive report by BusinessDay, that power minister, Bart Nnaji has a direct interest in a consortium that bidded for the Afam power plant, one of the generating plants put up for privatisation by the Federal Government.
The Afam plant is widely believed to be lucrative with its installed capacity of 776 megawatts (MW), comprising of 18 gas turbines, for which the Federal Government had just approved N500 million rehabilitation.
BusinessDay had reported on Monday that the minister, who before his appointment was the chairman of Geometrics, confirmed his interest in a bid for the plant at the crucial meeting of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) on August 24, at which the evaluation of the bids for Afam, Geregu, Kanji, Shiroro, Sapele, and Ugheli power plants were appraised, and authority given to the Technical Committee on Privatisation, to announce the firms that were passed to proceed to the next stage of the bid process.
Nnaji was reported to have told the meeting that his firm Geometric, had indirect equity holding in one of the three firms – Primeniza Energy Limited, Skipper Nigeria Limited and NPG Consortium - which bidded for the Afam plant and that he had disclosed his interest earlier.
According to one analyst “Can we honestly say now that he has been fair to all and that he has not sought to benefit from the process from the start; What other interest (s) does he have that have not been mentioned.
“What can be said about the manner this privatisation is beign handled is that it appears to be quite robust and that it is able to throw up issues like this and deal with them is truly commendable.”
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) and other civil society groups yesterday said they were not against the privatisation of PHCN, but called on the Federal Government to ensure the transparency of the exercise.