Governors ask court to halt sale of 10 NIPPs, disbursement of $418m Paris club refund

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By Mathew Ibiyemi

Governors under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) have asked the Federal High Court to stop the Federal Government from selling 10 National Integrated Power Projects (NIPPs).

In a communiqué issued at the end of its 8th teleconference meeting in Abuja, NGF Chairman and Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, said the 36 state governors have instructed their lawyers to approach the Federal High Court on the issues.

The communiqué reads, “The Forum, following its advocacy that the proposed privatisation of 10 National Integrated Power Projects (NIPPs) by the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) should be stopped, instructed its lawyers to approach the Federal High Court which, at present has issued a court order restraining all the parties in the suit from taking any step or action that will make or render the outcome of the motion on notice seeking for interlocutory injunction nugatory.

“The effect of the order of the court is that respondents cannot proceed with the proposed sale of the power plants belonging to the Niger Delta Power Holding Company Limited (NDPHCL) until the hearing and determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.”

Regarding the Paris Club Refund, the Forum has vowed to ensure that the fee is not paid to consultants.

The communiqué continues, “Regarding the $418 Million Paris Club Refund and promissory notes issued to Consultants by the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Debt Management Office (DMO), the Forum remains resolute in exploring all legal channels available to it in ensuring that resources belonging to states are not unjustly or illegally paid to a few in the guise of consultancies,” he said.

The effect of the order of the court is that respondents cannot proceed with the proposed sale of the power plants belonging to the Niger Delta Power Holding Company Limited (NDPHCL) until the hearing and determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.

The 10 stations billed for privatisation include: Benin Generation Company Limited; Calabar Generation Company Limited; Egbema Generation Company Limited; Gbarain Generation Company Limited; Geregu Generation Company Limited; Ogorode Generation Company Limited; Olorunsogo Generation Company Limited; Omoku Generation Company Limited; Omotosho Generation Company Limited; and Alaoji Generation Company Limited.

Five of these plants — Geregu, Omotosho, Ihovbor, Olorunsogo and Calabar already got approval of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) in April 2021, for adoption of a fast-track strategy by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE).

The Governors also plan to challenge the disbursement of $418 million Paris Club refund and promissory notes issued to consultants by the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, and the Debt Management Office (DMO).

The NGF also discussed other national issues, including monitoring the flood situation, polio immunisation, and digitalisation of immigration processes.

The communiqué reads further, “The forum is monitoring the flood situation across the country and working with the Federal Government through the National Economic Council (NEC) and in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development (FMHDSD), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning (FMFBNP) and the World Bank to prepare emergency interventions to ameliorate the impact of the flood crisis especially to sustain food security.

“Sequel to discussions between sub-sovereigns at the recently concluded 2nd African Sub-Sovereign Government Network (AfSNET) conference, the forum agreed to pursue through its membership on the Forum of Regions of Africa (FORAF) and its partnership with the African Export–Import (AFREXIM) Bank, support for enhanced dialogue, cooperation and collaboration between sub-sovereign governments around intra-African trade, investment, industrialisation, and development.

“Members were also briefed by the World Bank Task Team Leader (TTL), Professor Foluso Okunmadewa on the desired restructuring of the $750 million Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus Program (CARES) programme to respond to Nigeria 2022 Flood Response following discussions with states and the National Economic Council (NEC) Ad-hoc Committee on flooding.

“The restructuring will allow States reallocate funding from the programme for immediate response for livelihoods, assets and basic services.

“As the flood recedes, the states, through the programme, will be able to support the household enterprise recovery grants, short-term transfer of Households displaced, labour intensive opportunities for unskilled labour, rehabilitation of basic services infrastructure, recovery of damaged agricultural infrastructure, rehabilitation of destroyed wet markets, amongst others.”