Relinquishing key national assets to only serious-minded investors is the right approach to privatization and commercialization of public assets in order to achieve efficiency of service delivery, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Osinbajo stated this on Monday at a brief ceremony to formally present the Discharge Certificate to Transcorp Power PLC for the privatization of Ughelli Power Plant PLC, at the Presidential Villa.
The ceremony was a prelude to the valedictory meeting of the National Council on Privatization chaired by Osinbajo.
The certificate was presented to the company (Transcorp Power) following its compliance with all the deliverables in the Post Acquisition Plan of the Bureau of Public Enterprises for the Ughelli Power Plant.
Speaking about the significance of the event, the Vice President said “the power needs of our country are grave and we strongly believe that the right approach is the privatization of the power assets to enable serious-minded private sector players to invest in the provision of public power and to ensure that they are efficient and make profit at the same time.”
He noted that “it is good to see public institutions such as ourselves, the NCP, are able to conduct matters from the beginning to the end successfully. Very often, there are hiccups and things have to go from one government to the other trying to resolve particular issues, but this is a very heartwarming occasion.
“What we are doing today is the delisting of Transcorp Power PLC from the routine evaluation and monitoring by the BPE. We hope that this will be the first and not the last in the series of private companies that have taken over power plants and are able to meet the expectations of effective service delivery to Nigerians.”
Applauding the BPE and Transcorp Power PLC for the smooth conclusion of the process, Osinbajo said “the routine evaluation and monitoring by the BPE is an important feature of the Post Acquisition Plan (PAP) and it has covenants and deliverables which the enterprise is supposed to live up to and we understand, in this case that Transcorp Power PLC has done exactly that. They have been able to ensure compliance with all of the deliverables, in some cases, exceeding the covenant and deliverables in the PAP.
“So, this is both an opportunity to commend the management of Transcorp Power PLC, Tony Elumelu and members of the Transcorp Power team, and also to commend the BPE for doing an excellent job of monitoring and being able to come up with, not just a set of criteria, but also an objective means of deciding that we are able today to delist Transcorp Power.
“And also that Transcorp Power is able to deliver power efficiently and it is able to do so even way beyond the expectations of the PAP. We urge the organization to continue in that path and do even better,” he added.
Earlier in his remarks, the BPE Director-General, Alex Okoh said the presentation of the Discharge Certificate to Transcorp Power PLC was a culmination of a process that started in 2013, noting that the company had invested over N80 billion in the plant significantly improving its generation capacity.
He added that Transcorp Power PLC had met the deliverables and targets contained in the performance agreement signed when the plant was privatized in 2013.
On his part, the CEO of Transcorp Power PLC, Tony Elumelu, thanked the Federal Government for the opportunity to contribute to the country’s power sector, assuring that the company will not disappoint Nigerians and government.
He also disclosed that the company had built a strong indigenization agenda with all its operations managed 100% by Nigerian experts, and added that its plan of growing with the host community was being implemented as schools, hospitals and other social services were being provided by Transcorp Power PLC.
Besides the presentation of Certificate to Transcorp Power PLC, the NCP approved BPE’s request to conclude the sale of 60% equity stake in Abuja Electricity Distribution PLC to Joelan International Limited, the prospective core investor.
The BPE boss had in the presentation of the memo, assured Council that the processes were going on smoothly and that the transaction would be concluded successfully in line with laid out guidelines.
In addition, Council got an update report on the Aba Ring-Fenced Area transaction, and the NITEL/MTEL property known as 2A, Osborne Road Ikoyi, Lagos, illegally obtained by the Association Development Property Co. Ltd.
At the end of proceedings, Council members also spoke highly of the Vice President’s leadership especially for the achievements recorded under his watch.
In his brief remarks, Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu commended the Vice President for his gracious leadership, noting that under his watch, the NCP has done very well, especially regularizing some of the unsavory errors of the past. He also commended the NCP.
On his part, Power Minister, Abubakar Aliyu said under Osinbajo’s leadership, the NCP has been more effective, stating that Council members have learnt virtues of patience and carefulness, among others.
He said the Vice President had piloted NCP to achieve so much in the past years.
In a similar vein, the Finance Minister, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed observed that Council members have learnt a lot from the Vice President’s “sterling leadership qualities.” On a personal note, the Minister said she learnt a lot about the different sectors of the economy through the workings of the Council.
She commended the BPE for the quality of Council papers.
Similarly, the DG BPE said “under your sterling leadership, NCP has achieved remarkable successes. There has never been an occasion where the Vice President called to express personal interest in any of our processes,” he disclosed.
Osinbajo also thanked Council members for their knowledgeable and patriotic contributions, and the Secretariat for the wonderful job and urged them to keep it up in the incoming administration.
On the privatization of public enterprises, the Vice President opined that rather than getting too involved in business, the government’s focus should be in regulating and creating the enabling environment.
“I am one of those who believe that the government should not get involved with business but should only be concerned with the regulatory oversight aspect, adding however that he does not consider the purist argument as an article of faith.”
He said there would be cases where government could he involved in business, but even then, private sector should lead, noting that “we should continue to let the private sector lead while government maintains its regulatory role,” the Vice
He cited the example of the Nigerian Liquified Natural Gas (NLNG), saying, “even when the oil and gas sectors were in turmoil, the NLNG kept paying us dividends.”
On behalf of Mr. President, Osinbajo commended Council members for their service and dedication.
Other members present at the meeting were the Ministers of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, other non-government Council members; representatives of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, and Office of the Attorney General of the Federation, among others.