The privatisation of major national assets in Nigeria remains within the construct of conflicting subjects of interests when juxtaposition is made with the objectives of such arrangement and the outcome that accrued from the end results. The assessment of the identifiable records of the performance profile of monumental assets privatised over time apparently bends stronger towards the pitching line of shortfalls from the expected objectives. The subject of the perusal of the deficiencies which clustered to snuff breath of relevance out of these assets lies within the lines of colluding controversies. It would be arguable therefore, that the fact that many of the privatisation exercise failed in achieving their purposes is a reflection of lacunae that were not profoundly taken care of before embarking on, and finalising the process.
One locus classicus in this line of perspective is the privatisation in the power sector which took off in November 2013 with the carving out of the Distribution Companies (DisCos) and the Generation Companies (GenCos) from the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN). The prevailing performance profile of the sector when compared pari parsu with the projected outcome of the privatisation course, is a tale of lamentation as no record bears resemblance to effects of rationality between the expected outcome and the actual outcome. It wouldn’t therefore be a gainsaying that the inconsistencies of the operating pillars of the sector have not yielded in any way, commensurate results to the expectations of the taunted outcome of the privatisation. The privatisation of the sector has otherwise lamentably generated more controversies and apparently recorded more failure than good.
Recent arguments against the prevailing order have been premised on the ground that, in as much as the deal has not yielded any remarkable outcome commensurate with the desired result, then the essence is defeated, and therefore a return to the erstwhile order. However, while the productivity of the power sector has not yielded appreciable results despite the taunted benefits of the privatisation course, attempts towards privatising more national assets within the framework of the sector have not been an option out of the box. It was on Monday disclosed that the Board of Directors, Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) and the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) have approved the sale of five GenCos in the Country through a competitive bidding process. On a similar note, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) has called on prospective investors to express interest in purchasing 100 percent shareholding. It was reportedly gathered that the five power GenCos constructed under the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) listed for sale are located in Kogi, Edo, Cross River, Ondo and Ogun. According to reports, the five generation plants include Geregu Generation Company Ltd with gross installed capacity at ISO condition of 506 Megawatts (MW); Benin (Ihovbor) Generation Company Ltd with 507 MW; Calabar Generation Limited with 634MW; Omotosho Generation Limited with 513MW and Olorunsogo Generation Company Limited with 754MW. A document to the effect, indicates that the sale is in continuation of the ongoing reforms of the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry said to be consistent with the Nigerian Electric Power Policy and Electric Power Sector Reform (EPSR) Act, 2005. Prospective investors would therefore be expected to submit separate Expressions of Interest (EoI) for each GenCos.
It would be recalled that BPE had while defending its 2021 budget before the National Assembly, disclosed plans by the Federal Government to sell some GenCos. While privatisation of national assets might not be arguable said to be wrong on itself, founding such processes on faulty grounds of deficient foundations may not be too right for a good will towards such move. Hence, taking a recourse to the failure of past privatisation courses in achieving the intended results, with special references to take clues from those within the power sector, is key.
All necessary efforts must therefore be channeled to making the framework of the intended exercise well defined, such that the same fate that befell similar courses do not become of the intending ones. It is well known that the power sector is not in a state of productivity, commensurate with the demands of Nigeria’s economy. Hence, infusing more inconsistencies into the working system of the sector is not in any way a good omen; both for commercial and domestic electricity needs in the Country. In this light, working within the framework of ill-defined parameters for the privatisation of these particular assets in question, may not spare them from the fate of wobbling outcome that befell national assets of similar character which were hastened through similar process. Hence, redefining the objectives of the process with well articulated architecture effective to bear near resemblance of productivity with the intended results, is key. In this light, turning from the track of the failed precepts that constitute antecedents of deficiencies which largely never made such processes worthwhile, is essential. Nigerians and the economy within which they transact business activities, need a virile power sector which is devoid of inconsistencies to drive the much required growth in the yearning desire for better living standard. Hence, the onus lies on all concerned authorities to place premium importance on matters informing the privatisation move, by working along modified patterns of well defined architecture to prevent another privatisation failure whose outcome falls short of its intended results.