Akin Akande, Abuja
President Goodluck Jonathan has handed over share certificates and licenses to 14 new core owners of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) successor companies.
In his speech at the ceremony held at the State House Banquet Hall on Monday, the President described the formal handing over as historic, saying that moving from a government-owned and operated electricity sector to a private sector-driven industry is the right way to go for the economy.
The Generation companies (GENCOS) now in the hands of new core investors are Geregu, Ughelli, Olorunsogo and Egbin Power plants, as well as Kainji and Shiroro Hydro electric plants.
The Distribution companies (DISCOS) are: Abuja, Benin, Eko, Ibadan, Ikeja, Jos, Kano, Port Harcourt and Yola.
“For this administration, today’s ceremony is indeed a major step forward in our concerted efforts to ensure efficiency, competitiveness and best practices in the country’s electricity sector,” the President said.
He recalled the journey towards the complete privatization of the powers sector which started in 1999 when the National Council on Privatization (NCP) constituted the Electricity Power Sector Implementation Committee (EPIC) with a mandate to undertake a comprehensive study and review of the entire industry.
The President noted with delight that the process of privatizing the power sector has been ‘adjudged by both local and foreign investors as transparent, well organized, and fair”.
According to him, the success recorded so far in the privatization of the Gencos and Discos has prompted government to commence the privatization of the generation assets of the new National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP) of the Niger Delta power Holding Company of Nigeria (NDPHC) jointly owned by the three tiers of government- federal, states and local governments.
He, however, noted that there had been challenges, but added that they were being addressed, citing the payment of PHCN workers entitlements.
“It is important to say to our labour partners, who we know to be patriotic Nigerians, that they should not nurse feeling of displacement, but dwell on the tremendous possibilities that the revitalization of the sector holds for them and the future,” he said.
President Jonathan also reiterated the commitment of his administration to providing all elements that are necessary for, “our private sector partners to succeed in providing Nigerians with uninterrupted power supply”.
His words: “We do not expect the sector to be revitalize overnight but we can look forward to a better time soon as we have seen in the telecommunication and banking sectors.
“To the Nigerian people who have demonstrated such great patience and confidence, putting up often with darkness, noisy power generating sets, the related pollution and the daily disruption in their lives, I say better days are coming. “Today, we embark in a new journey, a journey that will usher us to a destination of enduring gain and fulfillment,” the President said.
Also speaking, Vice President Namadi Sambo who also chairs, National Council on Privatization (NCP), described the formal handing over of the Gencos and Discos as, “a new beginning as it marks another major landmark in the implementation of the transformation agenda.’
He recalled that at the beginning of the process, many people doubted that the feat could be achieved.
“Today, I am proud to say that with the support, encouragement, dogged determination and commitment of President Goodluck Jonathan, we were able to pull through to this stage of the process,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of the new owners of the Gencos and Discos, the chairman of Mainstream Power, Col. Sani Bello (rtd.) congratulated the President for seeing the privatization process through to logical conclusion.
“On behalf of all the winners, we shall work with relevant agencies to ensure stable power within reasonable time. It has been a very hectic process to get to this point. I will like to assure Mr. President that we shall not fail,” he said.