The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, on Thursday said it was untrue he described the 2013 privatisation process for successor generation and distribution companies of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) as illegal, saying the newspaper report which attributed it to him was not factual.
He said in an emailed statement from his senior aide on communications, Mr. Hakeem Bello, in Abuja that he did not make such remarks at a Senate public hearing on electricity tariff.
The Minister in the statement distanced himself from the alleged pronouncement.
He said in presentations he made before the Senate Committee, he never used the word ‘illegally’ to refer to the privatisation of the PHCN by the federal government.
He said rather, a verified playback of a video recording of the session, showed he said, “…as minister, I inherited a power sector where government interests had been legally sold…”
The minister’s clarification of what he said at the session with the Senate has however coincided with reactions from operators of electricity generation companies (Gencos) and distribution companies (Discos) on the report, with some of them expressing their willingness to give up their assets and claim compensation from the government if it decides to reverse the transaction.
According to the statement, Fashola in tracing how the country got to this point in her power sector, referred to the privatisation law made in 2005.
He was quoted as saying: “The people of this country through their parliamentarians made a verdict in 2005 when you passed that law that things must change, the law was passed in 2005 and the process was completed in 2013, I wasn’t here, some of you were here, if the process is bad where was the oversight.”
He also reportedly said to the Senate: “I will commend to this committee the report of the House of Representatives that investigated the matter.
I will also commend to you sirs, some of the reports that have been made by the Senate committee on privatisation.
basic reason for the passage of the power sector reforms bill that was passed in 2005 is that we all know that the government was not doing its business well.”
Fashola, it said defended the reform law when he reportedly said the Senate: “These decisions were taken before any of us was here.
If it was working why change it, who were the people that were employed to make it work, it was our employers in the TUC and other unions, and if they complain that the dam was not working and the power plant was not working, that was why they were hired.”
According to the statement, Fashola further described the power sector reform law as a great law.