I resigned to retain my integrity, says Nnaji

Minister of Power, Barth Nnaji

Former minister says his resignation from office would enable him pursue his dream for integrated power supply in the country.

Ata Udo

The Former Minister of Power, Barth Nnaji, has denied that he was forced to resign his appointment, saying he voluntarily resigned from office to retain his hard-earned integrity.

Mr. Nnaji tendered his resignation letter to President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday, after allegations became rife that the he had compromised the integrity of the sale of the 18 subsidiary firms unbundled from the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).

The minister was reported to have direct interests in one of the firms short-listed to bid for the 776 megawatts Afam power plant, already slated for privatisation by the Federal Government.

However, to show his innocence, the former minister said in a statement that he had voluntarily resigned “in order to retain his integrity,” because it had been exposed to attacks by powerful vested interests who were hell bent on tarnishing his reputation.

“I feel particularly proud of the fact that my exit comes at a time that the administration has been able to generate and supply an unprecedented quantum of steady, reliable electric power in the history of our nation.

“I am confident enough to allow history and the Nigerian people to judge my performance on the task that I accepted from the President,” he said.

Mr. Nnaji said he is grateful to President Goodluck Jonathan for giving him the opportunity to serves. He thanked Nigerians for supporting his effort to improve public power supply in the last 14 months.

The former minister expressed gratitude for the opportunity to serve Nigeria twice, adding that he feels privileged to have served the nation twice as minister, an adviser, and a ranking cabinet minister in a complex power sector.

“This resignation is also to ensure that there is no spillover of these attacks to the President who is working very hard to transform the nation,” he said.

On allegations of conflict of interest, which provided the basis for his critics to question his decision under the privatization programme, Mr. Nnaji said prior to accepting the ministerial position, he resigned his directorship of all companies he had interest in, while putting his shares in those companies in a Blind Trust.

“The Blind Trust means that I was not privy to the day-to-day business decisions of those who ran this Trust,” he said.

“In addition, I publicly declared the participation in the privatization process of a foreign company that did business with a company that I had interest in.

“This fact came to my knowledge only during the course of evaluating the consortia that were bidding for PHCN successor companies. Consequently, I also voluntarily excused myself from participating in the selection process. These actions, I should think, are in line with the finest traditions of transparency and accountability in governance,” Mr. Nnaji said.

He commended the staff of the Ministry of Power, Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and other agencies for their “dedication to duty, hard work, patriotism and commitment to the common good.” He said his resignation would now afford him the opportunity to go back to his integrated power projects, designed to accelerate the development of the nation.

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