12 March 2013

Nigeria: After Seven Months of Pussyfooting, FG Finally Hands Over TCN to Manitoba

The Federal Government did what has been considered extremely necessary in its ongoing power reform programme when it last week granted Canadian firm, Manitoba Hydro International (MHI) absolute control of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).

THISDAY gathered Monday in Abuja from sources at the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) that the Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, has finally signed off the controversial "schedule of delegated authority" for MHI to immediately commence operations at TCN.

Nebo accordingly signed and handed MHI the "schedule of delegated authority" last Friday in Abuja.

The "schedule of delegated authority" grants Manitoba authority over operations of TCN in relations to Market Operations, System Operations, Transmission Service Provider, National Control Centre and Information Technology.

THISDAY also gathered that the newly constituted board for TCN will be inaugurated by Nebo Tuesday in Abuja, perhaps, bringing to a close what has been considered an eventful path to Manitoba's assumption of duties at TCN.

Government has retained ownership of TCN which is part of successor companies created off the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) in the ongoing power sector liberalisation exercise.

It contracted Manitoba in July 2012 to manage operations of TCN at a contract sum of $23.7 million for three years; the contract which passed through a competitive bidding process entails Manitoba repositioning TCN to effectively discharge its responsibilities in the evolving Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI).

However, the contract was subjected to various degrees of controversies leading to its purported cancellation and subsequent revalidation late 2012 by President Goodluck Jonathan whose actions were largely informed by an advice from the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP).

The BPP had charged the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) of mis-procuring the management contract; an accusation the BPE vehemently denied citing extant laws that support its processes and actions.

Apart from the BPP/BPE disagreement, the management contract was also subjected to some forms of manipulations following alleged attempts by officials of the ministry of power to take-off certain aspects of it from Manitoba.

It was largely understood that the ministry had attempted to reserve the market operations duties from the contract; this among others were partly responsible for the delay in signing off the "schedule of delegated authority" for Manitoba as the ministry allegedly tried to amend the contract. The market operations department is technically responsible for financial settlements in the value-chain.

Nebo who confirmed the recent development to THISDAY said the contract was delivered to Manitoba intact.

He noted that no aspect of it was taken off and that a board for the TCN will be inaugurated immediately to complement the job of Manitoba at TCN.

"Yes, we have handed over the complete running of TCN to Manitoba; I have signed and handed over the "schedule of delegated authority" to Manitoba but again, we are also going to inaugurate the board of TCN tomorrow (Tuesday) to compliment the work of Manitoba," Nebo said over the telephone.

Also, a phone call to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Manitoba, Mr. Don Priestman to confirm the development was not so successful but THISDAY however learnt that Priestman has been in a meeting with staff of TCN over the new development.

In constituting the supervisory board of TCN, the government opted for the former Chairman of Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission (RMFAC), Mr. Hamman Tukur as chairman, while former CEO of Skye Bank, Mr. Akinsola Akinfemiwa will act in the capacity of the Vice-Chairman.

Other members of the board include the Director of Human Resources Management at BPE, a representative of the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Director of Power at the Ministry of Power and a commissioner from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

The TCN board will also have the representative of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), successor PHCN generation companies (GENCOS) and distribution companies (DISCOS) as members.

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