Abuja — Following a final resolution of the lingering labour issues that had slowed down the smooth privatisation of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) last Tuesday, the Federal Government has said it will begin an immediate process of winding up the operations of PHCN as provided by Electric Power Sector Reform (EPSR) Act.
The government hinted at the weekend that a committee to fast track the final process of winding down the company would be inaugurated this week and expected to work with another committee it had earlier setup a year ago for the same purpose in line with the EPSRA 2005 and President Goodluck Jonathan's roadmap for the reform of the electricity sector.
Minister of State for Power, Hajia Zainab Kuchi, confirmed that procedures to commence the winding down has begun, explaining at a press briefing to mark the end of the fifth national power summit in Lagos that the process was a consensus by all stakeholders in the power sector.
Kuchi noted that the new committee would hasten the process to ensure that it is completed as soon as possible.
"The committee will be a fast track committee that would work to ensure that this is completed quickly," she said.
The EPSRA 2005 made provisions for the winding down of PHCN and transfer of its assets and workers to the 18 successor companies created from it.
Before now, members of the former committee which was setup in 2011 by the Federal Government and given a few months to conclude their assignment included the Ministry of Power, Presidential Task Force on Power (PTFP), Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), Ministry of Finance and the Nigeria Electricity Liability Management Company (NELMCO).
Under the EPSRA 2005, NELMCO was set up at the time the old National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) was unbundled in 2006, creating PHCN as a temporary holding company. NELMCO was accordingly included in the committee to assume custody of stranded assets and liabilities of PHCN with a mandate to eventually liquidate the stranded assets.
Such PHCN assets and liabilities are expected to be sold gradually and the proceeds used to settle unidentified contractors or bank debts that cannot be attributed to any of the unbundled assets created from the breakup of NEPA. NELMCO will be legally obliged to settle any outstanding liabilities after the PHCN successor companies come under the management of new private sector investors.
Largely, labour issues were identified as being responsible for the inability of the government to start the process of winding down PHCN when the first committee was commissioned last year and so they could not complete their task.
Also, a labour committee chaired by the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Mr. Chukwuemeka Wogu, was established by the Presidential Action Committee on Power (PACP) to ensure that the government fully honours all obligations to the current PHCN workers.
Meanwhile, Kuchi also disclosed that Canadian firm; Manitoba Hydro International would be paid the management fee it agreed with the Federal Government for its three years management contract of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).
She stated that the fee would be paid to Manitoba this week following the activation of the management contract and that the money would be made available to Manitoba to enable it commence full operations at TCN.
Manitoba was contracted by the government on a three-year $23.7 million management contract that is expected to reposition TCN into a technically and financially efficient, stable, and sustainable company ahead of its role in Nigeria's emerging power sector.