20 November 2012

Nigeria: How Manitoba TCN Contract Was Salvaged

Photo: Leadership
Electric transmission lines

Details as to how President Goodluck Jonathan prevented Nigeria's power sector reform programme from collapsing have emerged, following a memo which was submitted to him by the Director General (DG) of Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), Mr. Emeka Ezeh, recommending the cancellation of the management contract signed with Manitoba Hydro International to run the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).

THISDAY gathered from a presidential source Monday in Abuja that the president was convinced to preserve the three-year management contract when certain key technocrats in the privatisation process hinted him of the possible far reaching implication of Ezeh's memo on the privatisation of successor companies carved out of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).

According to the source, the role which one of such technocrats, Mr. Atedo Peterside, played in his capacity as the Chairman, Technical Committee of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP), was instrumental in persuading the president and Vice President, Namadi Sambo, not to go ahead with the cancellation of the $23.7 million contract.

Based on Atedo's intervention, the source explained that the president met with Sambo and the DGs of Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Ms. Bolanle Onagoruwa and BPP, Ezeh, on Thursday last week where he told them to tidy up all the loose ends on the Manitoba contract and resubmit for validation.

Jonathan also directed that the contract documents must reach him before he leaves the country on Tuesday night, a fact he confirmed during his media chat on NTA on Sunday night.

"He also met with Don Priestman, CEO of Manitoba on Thursday to assure him of the Federal Government's commitment to preserve the Manitoba contract," the source noted.

While confirming the meeting with President Jonathan, Priestman told THISDAY over the phone that "things are moving on well now and that is very intelligent."

He, however, declined to give details of his company's meeting with the president, saying, "I would not like to give you tentative words but would prefer that you wait until we are able to see to this."

Priestman further said: "Yes, I met with the president but at the moment we are waiting and it is better we wait. Now is not the right time to talk because we have to see out the process before any other thing."

The management contract is expected to reposition TCN for its role in Nigeria's emerging power sector.

Industry watchers who spoke to THISDAY stated that the president's reconsideration of the contract's revocation was the right decision to save the country the embarrassment that the development would have brought, considering the strategic nature of TCN to the power reform programme.

They said that had the president gone ahead to terminate the contract, it would have taken the country at least 18 months to transparently and competitively procure a new management contractor for TCN, in view of the processes involved.

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