Federal Government’s efforts to improve power supply in the country received a boost following the recent announcement of bid winners for five electricity generation stations across the country. The stations were hitherto under the control of the behemoth, Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN). They consist of three thermal stations and two hydro stations.
The bid winners in the sale supervised by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) are Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc, Amperion Consortium, CMEC/Eurafric Energy Consortium, Mainstream Energy Solutions Ltd, and North-South Power Company Ltd. The five preferred bidders are expected to pay N107 billion for the five electricity generation companies. Transcorp Plc won the bid for Ughelli Thermal Power Plant with an offer of $300 million, Geregu Power Plant went to Amperion Consortium for $132 million, while Sapele Thermal Plant went to CMEC/Eurafric for $201 million.
The preferred bidders for Kainji Hydro Plant and Shiroro Hydro Power Plant are Mainstream Energy Solutions Ltd and North-South Power Company Ltd., for $507.76m and $23.602 million, respectively. However, the investors’ bids can only be deemed consummated after they have fully paid up the sums within a specified period and the transactions are ratified by the National Council on Privatisation (NCP). We heartily welcome the sale and concession of the five power generation stations. It is a step in the right direction.
This is so because, for years, declining power supply has undermined economic development and quality of life of Nigerians. The problem has proved a hard nut to crack for successive governments in the country. Despite billions of dollars invested in the power sector since 1999, government has never come close to generating the needed megawatts it promised. Every glimmer of hope raised has fizzled out shortly after the promise was made.
Undoubtedly, the power sector has become the Achilles heel, and “sick baby” of government for many years now. This has forced many industries to close shop and relocate outside Nigerian shores. However, although the successful bidders reportedly have links with some prominent Nigerians, this concession should not be seen as political patronage. Electricity supply to the nation is too important to be trifled with. We believe that with the successful privatisation of PHCN and the emergence of new investors, the nation will witness a new dawn in the power sector.
There will, hopefully, be light at the end of the dark tunnel of inefficient power generation and distribution in the country. But, before this can become a reality, the preferred bidders must match their promise with the ability to pay the bidded sums. That is the first hurdle towards showing that their bidding is not a fluke. A similar exercise to unbundle PHCN in the past was stalled, and eventually failed, because the preferred winners suddenly developed cold feet and pulled out.
That should not be allowed to happen in the present exercise as we believe that jinx has finally been broken. The successful bidders should demonstrate commitment to ensuring that the reform in the power sector pays off. It is fair to think that the investors have done their homework and it would be a national embarrassment if they fail to deliver after the fanfare that attended their successful biddings. They need reminding that the power sector holds the key to Nigeria’s economic growth. It is a catalyst for development in other sectors of the economy.
In that regard, the successful bidders should be serious. Let them avoid extortionist tendencies in their operations. They should demonstrate zeal and efficiency in service delivery. Arbitrary increase in tariffs should be avoided. They should work hand-in-gloves with Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to ensure that the cost of electricity to consumers is affordable, and based on the Multi-Year Tariff Order (MYTO).
The preferred bidders must realise that to whom much is given, much is expected. They should rise to the challenge of generating sufficient electricity to ensure stable power supply in the country.