The Federal Government said Tuesday that it had commenced the process of finalising negotiations which are expected to culminate in the execution of transaction documents which would lead to the hand over of the power assets-including generation and distribution companies, to their preferred bidders.
Acting Director-General, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr. Dikki Benjamin, said during the pre-negotiation meeting with the preferred bidders of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) successor gencos and discos in Abuja, that the negotiations had begun in earnest.
It followed the successful receipt of bank guarantees for 15 per cent of the transaction value from the preferred bidders.
Dikki said the privatisation agency's bankers have affirmed and verified all the bank guarantees provided by the preferred bidders.
He said: "All the preferred bidders are qualified to enter this stage of the privatisation process-which is the finalisation of negotiation between the Federal Government and the bidders."
He, noted however, that transaction documents will be executed only after finalisation of negotiations.
He said: "Today, we are at the verge of seeing the promised land. The marathon which began in 1999 with the constitution of the Electric Power Sector
Implementation Committee (EPIC) by the National Council on Privatization (NCP) to undertake a comprehensive study of the electricity power industry is about to breast the tape."
According to him: " The fact that we shall be executing the transaction documents for all the GENCOS and DISCOS, except Kaduna and Afam, attests to the success of this voyage and the commitment of the Jonathan/Sambo administration to continue implementing reforms in the power sector and other sectors like the oil and gas, transport and the postal sectors in the dogged pursuit of its transformation agenda."
The BPE boss said the involvement of the private sector should bring about higher generation capacities through the provision of more efficient and cost-effective power stations and improvements in the distribution sector.
He said the negotiation process would be quickened in order to conclude the handover in the nearest future.
"The end result of what we are starting today will be the execution of the transaction documents in a few days that will commence the process of eventual hand over of the successor companies to the core investors. The feedback we are receiving is that all of you are desirous that the transaction documents are expeditiously executed, if not in one day, in a few days. We are committed to making this happen."
Continuing, he said: "Government wants to assure all preferred bidders and their financiers that we are working assiduously to ensure effective handover of these enterprises."
According to him: "An agreement has been executed by Government and Labour that guarantees the cooperation of labour in the handover process".
Government, he said, is working to raise the finance to effect payment of staff entitlements.
"Just last Saturday, His Excellency, Vice President
Sambo presided over a meeting of Ministers and top ranking government officials to address the funding implications of the agreement."
He said title documents to landed properties were being vigorously pursued while the BPE was collaborating with the Ministry of Lands and Housing to ensure resolution of land and property titles.
Moreover, Dikki disclosed that high level government organs are discussing the funding of NELMCO and the Bulk Trader in order to ensure financial stability of the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI).
He added that bills falling due to the management contractor of Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) have either been paid or are at an advanced stage of processing for payment even as avenues were also being explored to provide adequate funding to improve TCN infrastructure on a sustainable basis while a lot had been achieved and more will be done to stabilise gas supply on a sustainable basis.
"All these measures should assure all preferred bidders and their financiers that everything is being done by government to provide a conducive atmosphere for their investments. The Federal Government appreciates all investors that participated in the power sector privatization process, especially the preferred bidders who have gone so far in this journey."