Thursday, April 17, 2014

Illegal Sale of PHCN: Caveat Emptor By Femi Falana SAN

Published:

Femi Falana

It is the height of shameful impunity on the part of the National Council of Privatisation to sell the PHCN to the unpatriotic individuals who have diverted and cornered the public funds earmarked for the uninterrupted supply of electricity in the country.

Bidding consortiums tied to retired military officers and serving political office holders are alleged to have been shortlisted by the Management of the National Council of Privatisation to buy the assets of the Nigerian people in the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) at give-away prices.Apart from the embarrassing fact that retired public officers who committed serious economic and financial crimes have become so audaciously daring to the extent of openly engaging in money laundering by buying public assets, it is the height of shameful impunity on the part of the National Council of Privatisation to sell the PHCN to the unpatriotic individuals who have diverted and cornered the public funds earmarked for the uninterrupted supply of electricity in the country.

Under the law, due diligence is mandatorily required to be carried out before the privatisation of any public enterprise. Does the National Council of Privatisation want Nigerians to believe that in the course of investigating the ongoing suspicious transactions, it did not confirm that serving and retired public officers are linked with the companies shortlisted to purchase the PHCN?

To add insult to injury the assets of PHCN including over 400 buildings and undeveloped properties in Lagos, Abuja and other cities in the country, thousands of plants, turbines, transformers, vehicles and millions of electric poles worth over N5 trillion are being undersold to corrupt “investors” at a paltry sum of N200 billion. Aside  the over $16 billion invested in the power sector under the Olusegun Obasanjo Administration the recent review of electricity tariff has increased the revenue generated by PHCN from N96 billion to N300 billion per annum. To trade off such huge investments for the sum of N200 billion is tantamount to an economic crime of gargantuan dimension.

Since President Goodluck Jonathan has sacked a Minister for attempting to buy two of the power generation companies, serving and retired public officers should not be allowed to buy PHCN with stolen money being laundered through the dubious privatisation being conducted by the National Council of Privatisation. Let the Federal Government continue with the noticeable improvement in electricity supply while those who are genuinely desirous to invest in the power sector should be advised to set up their own plants and compete with PHCN.

However, in view of the undeniable fact that arrangements have been concluded to hand over the PHCN to serving and retired public officers whose sources of wealth are questionable, LET BUYERS BEWARE as the illegal sale will be revoked sooner than later.

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