8 January 2014

Nigeria: TCN Gets Six-Month Deadline to Improve Power Supply

Photo: Vanguard
Privatization of Nigeria's energy sector.

The federal government has read the riot act to the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), giving it a six-month ultimatum to stabilise power supply in the country.

The minister of power, Prof Chinedu Nebo, who gave the firm the marching orders yesterday in Abuja while inaugurating the new TCN board chairman, Mr Ibrahim Waziri, told the TCN board that power supply must significantly and visibly improve by June this year as directed by President Goodluck Jonathan.

He said: "I wish to specifically draw your attention to the critical role of national grid in a deregulated electricity industry. "The risk of non-performance by TCN affects not only existing IPPs and Discos but also nullifies all our effort towards creating a conducive investment climate for the sector. You must therefore drive the management towards creating a national grid capable of reliably and efficiently evacuating all generated power nationwide."

The board is also expected to ensure that only prudent investments in transmission lines and substations are approved for implementation, while imploring it to take advantage of the numerous Public Private Partnership (PPP) proposals and provide the required leadership in seeking funding for capital projects beyond annual appropriation.

He further disclosed that the Board under the leadership of the immediate past Chairman has reviewed the Schedule of Delegated Authority (SODA) earlier issued to MHI adding that it is "therefore expected that the concern of the Nigerian public regarding the over-hyped powers of MHI would now be an issue of the past.

"I am also aware that the board has also considered and made recommendations on some amendments to the management contract with a view to making MHI more responsive to the changing needs of TCN," he added.

Both chairmen of the Senate and House Committees on Power, Phillip Aduda and Patrick Ikhariale, have also called for a review of the $24 million management contract of the TCN which the federal government entered into with Manitoba Hydro International (MHI).

Aduda and Ikhariale spoke during the inauguration of the newly appointed chairman of the TCN board Waziri in Abuja yesterday.

Aduda said: "I told the minister in our last meeting that clear protocols must be put in place where the System Operator (SO) knows what they are doing because they are giving out the energy; where the Market Operator (MO) knows what they are doing because they are paying the money and where TCN knows what it is doing.

"Right from Barth Nnaji, we had demanded copies of the agreement signed with Manitoba; we had demanded it to know where there are lacunas so that we can proffer solutions. When Barth Nanaji left, we asked Darius; it was all shrouded in secrecy," he said.

Urging Nebo to take another look at the agreement, Aduda said: "We need to ensure that apart from having Manitoba to manage the TCN, we must have Nigerians, whom they intend to transfer knowledge to, working at the same level with them and, if possible, at a higher level, and theirs will be an advisory role."

Reiterating his position, Ikhariale observed confirmed that there were some issues with the agreement, stressing that the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) would need to do a review of the nature of contractual agreement that it entered with Manitoba.

He said: "We are setting an agenda for the new chairman to take charge and be sure that the transmission sector delivers what Nigerians expect, but my worry is that if there are legal impediments, I am afraid we may have to handle those impediments first."

The new TCN board chairman, who has over 32 years experience in public service, was formerly the chief executive officer of the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Ltd (NLNG) and executive director, corporate services, of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

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