The Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) has said 10 of its power generation plants built under the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP) will be sold to only serious investors and not just anybody.
NDPHC's pronouncement, however, came on the heels of request for extension of deadline for submission of bid documents by some bidders for the plants, who failed to meet up with established deadline in the NIPP privatisation timeline. Submission of Expressions of Interest (EoI) by bidders ended 5 p.m. local time on July 19.
The plants scheduled for privatisation are 561 megawatts (MW), Calabar plant, Egbema- 338MW Ihovbor-450MW, Gbarain-225MW, Omoku-250MW, Alaoji-1074MW, Olorunsogo II-750MW, OmotoshoII-500MW, Geregu II-434MW and Ibom Power-190MW.
Amidst this it was also yesterday the reported that about 5,000 Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) workers have appealed to the federal government to see to the payment of their outstanding unpaid allowances before the successor companies created from the unbundling of PHCN were finally handed over to the new owners of the companies.
However, it was gathered that some of the bidders, who attended a two-day transaction review conference organised by the NDPHC had yesterday in Abuja, stated their desire for an extension of the deadline for the submission of their EoIs, but Chairman of the Technical Committee of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP), Mr. Peterside Atedo, immediately deflated any hopes for such extension, saying it was usual of unserious investors.
Atedo noted that from his experience, there have always been major issues of requests for extension for either submission timeline or payment timeline. He, however, congratulated those who met the submission deadline, adding that the deal was not mandatory and as such, those who missed the deadline should bid farewell to the process.
"The only thing I would say from my experience on this is that without being disrespectful, every time we are involved in this kind of exercise there is always a major issue for extension of submission, payment deadline. So, excuses have always been given.
"The only thing that we think that is certain is when the vendor draws the line in his hand. Do you know what? It is not compulsory. Those of you who have been able to submit, best of luck, to the rest of you goodbye," Atedo said.
He however explained that it appeared that those who refused to meet the deadline never liked the deal, thus, their failure offered better chances to the firms that met the deadline. Similarly, the Managing Director of NDPHC, Mr. James Olotu, who confirmed the NCP's position on the requests for deadline extension, said only serious investors would be transparently considered in the sale of the 10 power plants.
Olotu said by the sideline of the conference that the process was not for unwilling investors, whose stock in trade was to seek for extension of deadline within the process, adding that some bidders, who were ready for business had expressed their wish for a swift completion of the privatisation process.
"Like the chairman, technical committee of NCP said, examination time is examination time, there is no time you are set for examination that all the students are ready, some are ready, and some think that it won't hold but this would hold, this programme will hold. We have a timeline that by June next year, all the power plants will be handed over," Olotu said.
He further explained that: "The point is that this business we are doing now is for people who are serious. Those who are ready they will tow with us, those who are not ready will fall by the wayside.
"You remember the process in privatisation of PHCN; we are expecting that too even now that only the serious ones are ready and if we find any reason whatsoever to think that we should give them one more week, we will give them one more week subject to approval.
"But the point is that even if you give them six months more, some will still not be able to meet up. Do not forget that we already extended the timeline before; our EoI was supposed to start in June but we extended by one month and when we extended that particular one, other milestones were extended and yet they were still asking for more time."
On the status of the power plants before their handover to successful bidders, Olotu said: "The important thing is that no power plant will be handed over to any successful bidder without it being completed in the manner in which we said it must be completed. No power plant will be handed over before it is completed and acceptable for hand over. No contractor will be relieved of any portion of its work before handing over. Every power plant will be fit for the purpose in line with how the contract guideline outlined. So, that's the way its going to be.
"The completion of the power plant will not hinder the privatisation process. In fact, the reason why we are doing due diligence with the bidders is to go there by themselves and seek, there is nothing hidden. For them to see the level of the completion, appreciate it, talk to the engineers, the contractors, projects consultants, their field operators on the field and then decide on their own on what they hear and what they are seeing physically, they are assured that the power plant will definitely be completed. There is no doubt about it." Meanwhile, it was gathered that the affected workers who appealed to the federal government, according to THISDAY checks, comprised those in Ibadan zone, which includes Ogun, Oyo, Kwara, Osun and some parts of Niger and Kogi States.
The PHCN successor will be finally be handed over to their new owners in the next few weeks by the federal government, thereby bringing an end to the PHCN's control over power generation, supply and distribution in the country.
It was gathered that the affected workers included meter readers, power fault repairers, security guards, among others, as most of them had worked for about 12 years with N5,000 as their monthly salaries.
THISDAY further learnt that the affected PHCN workers were casual workers, who were yet to receive permanent employment letters to process the payment of their emoluments, as the company's assets were already prepared for full handover.
Consequently, some of the workers, who spoke yesterday to journalists in Ilorin on condition of anonymity, said: "The payment of their outstanding allowances would go a long way in assisting them to settle down following the final privatisation of the PHCN by the federal government."
The workers, who lamented their poor conditions as a result of the-non payment of their outstanding entitlements being owed them by the PHCN, said most of them could no longer meet the socio-economic demands of their families.
They also said many had developed illnesses such as high blood pressures, adding that many also died, while others sustained varying degrees of injuries from auto crashes during the course of their travelling to pursue their case.
The workers, who also claimed that they were all invited to Ibadan on July 7, 2012 for screening and clearance by a committee comprising PHCN officials, State Security Service (SSS), Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), a representative of the Inspector General of Police and Labour Ministry, added that they were all cleared.
They noted further that "out of about 1,000 members of staff that were cleared, only 400 were issued with letters of appointments that could facilitate the payment of their emoluments."