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NUEE threatens nationwide blackout over alleged takeover of DisCos

By Gloria Nwafor (Lagos) and Leo Sobechi (Abuja)
24 July 2022   |   3:46 am
Nationwide blackout looms as National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) warned it would shutdown operations over alleged buyout of Distribution Companies (DisCos) and power facilities by commercial banks.

Discos

• FG assures banks won’t hold shares permanently
• ‘Dangana’s appointment as KEDCO boss followed due process’

Nationwide blackout looms as National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) warned it would shutdown operations over alleged buyout of Distribution Companies (DisCos) and power facilities by commercial banks.

In a letter, titled: ‘Disturbing signals in the power sector -14-day ultimatum’, signed by General Secretary, Joe Ajaero, and addressed to the Minister of Power, NUEE lamented takeover of DisCos and power facilities based on perceived default on loans allegedly borrowed by the DisCos.

The union said it issued the ultimatum so that the Federal Government could review the situation, adding that its services will no longer be guaranteed.

NUEE recalled that prior to privatisation of the power sector, it raised the alarm over lack of financial capacity of firms to buy into the 18 unbundled companies in the sector.

It said the warning went unheeded, with the Federal Government giving out the companies based on loans presumably collected from commercial banks.

It said the Federal Government made Nigerians understand that the investors had financial and technological muscles to drive the sector. But it has been discovered that most, probably, lacked capacity to refund loans obtained from the banks.

NUEE said it does not make technical and socio-economic sense for the Federal Government to indirectly hand over operations of electricity companies to banks.

In its response, a letter to the NUEE, signed by Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Power, Nebeolisa Anako, said involvement of the banks at board level was as a consequence of the ownership and corporate governance of the DisCos.

He told the union that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has promised to ensure the banks do not hold the shares in perpetuity. He said there would be an early exit of banks from public utilities to allow sale of shares to other competent operators, in line with subsisting government policy on reform and oversight of relevant government agencies for such transactions.

The letter added that the overriding objective is to ensure provision of reliable electricity to consumers in a way that would not cause disruption to the DisCos.

MEANWHILE, the management of Kano Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO) Plc has said the appointment of Ahmed Dangana as Managing Director followed due process.

According to the company’s Chief Corporate Communications Officer, Ibrahim Sani Shawai, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) approved Dangana’s appointment.

He said the approval followed the Federal Government’s restructuring of five DisCos, following the takeover of three DisCos by Fidelity Bank, including KEDCO.

He said: ‘’Ahmed Dangana is a seasoned management consultant and a business turnaround specialist. He is expected to consolidate on the achievements of past management to improve operational efficiency and deliver long term value in the company by reducing Aggregate Technical, Commercial and Collection (ATC&C) losses and improving the company’s revenue base.”

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