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Uncertainty over Nigeria’s power privatization as Buhari sacks AEDC management

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday, approved the sack of the management of Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC), while approving a new interim governing board to oversee the day-to-day running of the company. 

Industry analysts have questioned the rationale behind the sack since the Nigeria’s power sector has been privatised (since 2013).

This development, they said, could scare investors and stir up uncertainty in the sector.

Although the sector has been privatised, the Federal Government has intervened financially to the tune of N30 billion monthly in the form of electricity subsidies.

Meanwhile, the sack follows the industrial action embarked on by the Nigerian Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) two days ago, which was later called off late Monday.

Accordingly,  the management of the AEDC has not given any official position on matter.  Spokesperson of AEDC Oyebode  said ‘no comment’ when The ICIR contacted him on the matter.

Recall that the industrial action by the NUEE left Abuja, Nasarawa, Kogi, parts of Edo, Niger and Kaduna States, which are franchise areas for the AEDC, in total power blackout.

The workers protested unpaid allowances, salaries and unremitted pension deductions.

Ofem Uket, media aide to the Minister of State for Power Jeddy Agba, who confirmed the  sack on Tuesday in a statement, said the president approved a new interim governing board to oversee the day-to-day operations of the company.

“The presidential directives as conveyed also directed the Bureau of Public Enterprises to set up a new management team of the AEDC.”

In a memorandum of understanding (MoU) jointly signed by Agba; Chairman of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) Sanusi Garba; Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises Alex Okoh; Joe Ajaero on behalf of the labour union, the Federal Government ordered the suspension of the strike and asked to be given 21 days within which the outstanding emoluments and entitlements of staff would be paid.

Energy lawyer Chuks Nwani, who spoke with The ICIR, questioned the rationale beyond the president’s directive on the back of the privatisation of the sector.

“The sector has been privatised and the president knows he cannot do that,” he said.

An economist Dan Umeliora said the government’s action was an interference in a private business.

” You are giving orders in a business in which you are a minority shareholder. Where does that happen?” he asked.

After the privatisation of the 11 DisCos of the Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) in late 2013, the Federal Government retained 40 per cent of the equity in the DisCos and divested 60 per cent to private investors. 

source: icirnigeria.org

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