• Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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RE: The dark side of the Aba power project – Anyim Pius Anyim

The dark side of the Aba power project: Right of reply- Anyim Pius Anyim

I am delighted to join friends and well-wishers to congratulate Prof. Barth Nnaji for a successful commission of Geometric Power Plant at Aba. It is my greatest joy to share this moment with Prof. Nnaji despite the sting of a reckless Mud Slinger whose identity and relationship with the project is hidden, suggestive of a hireling at work for his pay. My attention has been drawn to a story titled “The dark side of Aba Power Project” by one Lolade Akinmurele in Business Day Newspaper of Tuesday 27th February 2024. I am convinced that the hireling believes that the more he throws mud at everyone, from the vice President, the Secretary to Government of the federation, the Attorney General of the federation, the D-G BPE, the Chairman NERC, in-fact the entire Government, the more his pay.

I have had the privilege of reading the response by Dr Sam Amadi and also had the honour of speaking with my brother, Professor Nnaji, who vehemently disclaimed the writer and undertook to release a formal statement in that regard.

In view of the above, my reply is essentially to state the facts for the records and to situate the meddlesome interloper properly. Accordingly, may I state just the following:

It is my pleasure to congratulate Prof. Barth Nnaji for this landmark achievement as Geometric power plant is commissioned. This is more so because as Prof. Nnaji was starting the Geometric power plant at Aba, I was also starting, in 2004, a multimillion-dollar ultra-modern sorghum malting plant at Aba and General Ukpo of, blessed memory, was building the Meridian Hotel in Port-Harcourt. As of then, these three projects were the most outstanding private sector projects east of Niger and occasionally, we shared experiences of our challenges. At that time, none of us was in government. To the glory of God, the three projects have all succeeded.

I think it is necessary to educate this hireling on how government works. If he is knowledgeable, he would have known the following:

1. That the privatization Programme was under the office of the Vice President, and privatization of the power sector was led by the Ministry of Power and until the last segment of the programme, Prof. Nnaji was the Minister of power.

2. That the office of the SGF had no role in the privatization Programme and, in particular, would not have had any need to interfere with the privatization of the DISCOs under the control of Professor Nnaji.

3. The hireling would have known that I had enough on my hands as SGF and by nature do not interfere with the work of anybody talkless of a parastatal that is not under my supervision.

4. It is important to note that NERC, which Sam Amadi led, was under the Ministry of Power, not the Presidency.

As a way of putting the record straight, let me adopt the following clauses from Dr. Sam Amadi’s reply:

“2. Prof Barth Nnaji was the Minister of Power from 2011 to 2013 when the process for privatization was completed. He was only removed just before the winners of the bid were announced.

Throughout the relevant period of the privatization, Professor Barth Nnaji was Minister of Power and had de facto control of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) that executed the privatization process. He chaired the Presidential Task Force on Power and was key figure in the National Council on Privatization that made key decisions about privatization. The Director General of BPE, Bola Onaguruwa worked closely with him and generally under his control as Minister of Power.”

“4. To the best of my knowledge, Prof. Bart Nnaji, as part of his business plan, intended to buy the Enugu Disco. There is nothing wrong about that. He is an entrepreneur whose entry into power sector was first as a private power producer in a deal to supply power to Abuja metropolis. Perhaps, based on the confidence that he would win the bid he neglected or forgot to separate the Aba Ring-Fenced area from the rest of Enugu Disco before he authorized the privatization of the entire Enugu Disco, including the Aba ring-fenced area. Later, when I confronted both DG BPE and Prof Bart Nnaji on why he failed to separate the Aba ‘ring- fenced’ area from Enugu Disco before authorizing privatization, they argued something to the effect that the Vice President opposed them. I have no proof of this fact.”

“5. Professor Barth Nnaji organized a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to bid for Enugu Disco, including the Aba ring-fenced area. He set up a special committee of BPE and Ministry of Power officials to evaluate the bids for the discos. After close of bid, his SPV, was adjudged the winner of the ENTIRE Enugu disco, including the Aba ring-fenced area.”

“7. After the evaluation and selection of Barth Nnaji’s firm as the preferred bidder, Chief Emeka Offor’s consortium petitioned on the ground of error. The Presidency empanelled a special committee chaired by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Power. The Chairman of NERC, the DG of BPE and BPE consultants were members with a mandate to review the process. After reviewing the process, the committee agreed that Chief Emeka Offor’s consortium ought to win the bid after correcting the error. The NCP approved Chief Emeka Offor’s consortium as the winner of the bid and the preferred bidder.”

“8. After the declaration of Chief Emeka Offor’s consortium as the winner, Bola Onagoruwa, the DG of BPE, wrote to NERC to cut off Aba ring-fenced area from Enugu disco area and reevaluate it for Barth Nnaji to purchase. NERC rejected that request because it would violate regulatory due process. You can not conclude a sale of a territory, and after the buyer has fulfilled terms and conditions, you alter the sale. While he was the Minister of Power and supervised the privatization, Professor Bart Nnaji had opportunity to demand the performance of the contract he had with federal government to be given the right of first rejection to purchase the Aba ring-fenced area before privatization. He did not do so, since he had reasonable expectations that he would purchase the entire Enugu disco. But unfortunately, he lost to Emeka Offor.”

“14. It is important to note that throughout this period I never had any meeting with either Emeka Offor or Pius Anyim or any of Emeka’s Offor’s proxy in any form on the matter in dispute. There has been no moment in my multiple interactions with Anyim Pius Anyim as Secretary to Government of the Federation that he ever sought my opinion or offer any opinion to me about the dispute over Aba Power.

Chief Emeka Offor never met me privately in my office or anywhere to discuss the matter with me.”

Having put the records straight, I am to restate my conviction that the writer was certainly hired to Mud Sling and not finding what to splash on me, he wrote.

“Offor, who was blocking the project, had Pius Anyim, Secretary of Government of the Federation, in his pocket, while Sam Amadi, the Chairman and CEO of NERC, was beholden to Anyim”.

This unfortunate writer may need to be reminded that I had several parastatals under my supervision as SGF. He should also know that NERC was not one of them and Dr. Sam Amadi had no reason to be ‘beholden’ to me or take instructions from me.

Anyim Pius Anyim, GCON