The Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC) has alleged that corruption in the appointment of Canadian energy firm, Manitoba Hydro International (MHINL) to manage the Transition Company of Nigeria (TCN), even as it asked the Federal Government to probe the poor management and underperformance of the company under Manitoba.
SSAEAC President, Mr. Chris Okonkwo, noted in an interview that there was no significant improvement in power since MHINL took charge four years ago, stating that corruption and politicisation of the power sector had compounded the operational processes of TCN.
Okonkwo said, “A look at the calibre and number of staff of MHINL evokes crass disdain for the quality of Nigerian professionals in TCN, who are subjected to men and women who are mediocre in the core business of TCN, and who use the Nigerians to do the little that is recorded as success of the contract, with outrageously high fees paid to the MHINL for little or no work done.”
While describing the contract as political, the SSAEAC President alleged that from inception till date, Manitoba exploited the weakness in the system, adding that, “they are morally and ethically bankrupt and should be investigated if the current war against corruption will have a meaning.”
He warned the Federal Government against another extension, which was being pushed for by MHINL, saying it would lead to industrial action from workers, stressing that it was necessary for the Federal Government to look inwards by sourcing local contractors and professionals in the sector.
Okonkwo also lamented that most of the firms, who bid for stakes in the sector were insincere about their ability to inject funds into the sector, querying: “When will government open its eyes to see that the investors today are not real investors?
He stated that the investors, who should have brought in investment and engaged technical partners, turned out to be hiring them temporarily for the bidding purpose, which was why the so-called investors were left to do a business they knew nothing about.
The Federal Government earlier this month terminated its contract with the Canadian firm, Manitoba Hydro International, which focuses on transmitting electricity and natural gas to utility companies, as the governments refused to renew the contract, after its expired on July 31, forcing Manitoba to hand over management of TCN back to the government.
Manitoba signed a three-year contract with the Federal Government in 2012 to manage TCN, which is the sole power transmission firm in the country and is owned by the government. The contract was then extended by one year in July 2015.
No official statement about the Federal Government’s refusal to renew the contract with Manitoba, but in June the House of Representatives intended to probe the firm over reports of poor performance and claims that the firm’s expatriate management was taking outrageous sums of money for salaries by inflating the exchange rate. However, the probe has not yet materialised.
Even as indication emerged that the Federal Government might run the firm for some time as a stopgap and then concession it to private investors later, a report stated that the State Grid Corporation of China had already shown interest.
An industry source disclosed that Nigeria might lose a US$300 million World Bank grant if TCN fully fell back to government management.
A permanent government takeover, it was gathered, could be regressive for the power sector because the sector was privatised in the first place in 2013 given how badly it was doing under the government’s monopoly, Power Holding Company of Nigeria.