The Coalition of Northern Group (CNG) has kicked against the plan by the Federal Government to sell some assets of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) to fund the 2021 budget deficit.

Balarabe Rufai, who spoke on behalf of the group at the investigative hearing by the House of Representatives joint committees on power and privatisation and commercialisation on Wednesday, said the planned sale is against the interest of the region.

The House had resolved to investigate the planned sale, following a motion moved by Kayode Musbau (APC, Lagos). The green chamber had mandated the joint committees to investigate the planned sales.

Mr Musbau had argued that the company did not belong to the federal government wholly because it was started with $3.5 billion withdrawn from the excess crude account which belongs to the three tiers of government.

At the hearing, Mr Rufai said the planned sale of Calabar, Ihovbor, Olorunsogo, Omotosho and Geregu power plants, is not acceptable to the region. He argued that it is inconsistent with the position of the mandate of NDPHC.

According to Mr Rufai, the planned privatisation “reneges on the initial understanding that after certain years of piloting the projects in Southern Nigeria, the assets were to be sold and the proceeds reinvested in setting up hydro generation assets in parts of northern Nigerian states for a similar length of time.”

The group rejected the plan to use the proceeds to fund the deficits in the budget, rather than investing it in renewable energy in the north.

He added that “this justification is not supportable and stands unacceptable for the fact that the NDPHC subsidiary companies are not wholly-owned by the FGN but include other shareholders — the states and local governments including those of northern Nigeria which stands the risk of being short-changed by this plot.”

Speaking earlier, the Managing Director of NDPHC, Chinedu Ugbo, said the company was not against the planned sales, noting that the value of the assets had depreciated by 50 per cent since the last planned sales.

He said the board of the NDPHC, which is chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, will meet on the 29 July to deliberate on the decision of the federal government to sell its stakes in the company.

Mr Ugbo informed the committees that the Mckinsey Consulting had advised the company to fix the system before selling, to avoid selling the assets for half of its value.

Also, he said the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company (NBET) was owing NDPHC over N150 billion.

The committee was unable to take the view of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), as the representative of the Director-General of BPE, Alex Okoh, was walked out of the hearing by the chairman, Aliyu Magaji.

Muraina Ajibola (PDP, Oyo), a member of the Committee, had moved that the committee should only take the submission of heads of agencies, not subordinates. The motion was adopted and passed.

Also, the representative of Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, ALGON, Ngozika Iwuoma, was stopped midway from making a presentation due to lack of correspondence from the leadership of ALGON.

Before he was stopped, he had stated that ALGON supported the sale as long as the local governments would get their fair share of the proceeds of the sales.

Meanhile, Mr Magaji, the chairman of the committee, asked the DG of BPE alongside the Central Bank of Nigeria, Ministry of Finance and others to also appear before the committee.

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