By Elohor Igbru
Nigerians should prepare for more darkness as the country’s power distribution companies are up in fight against the federal government and Fidelity Bank over a planned takeover by the bank, a move backed by the Federal Government through the Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE).
According to sources, the Discos have continued to fight the takeover by launching fresh legal battles against the bid and the restructuring of some power distribution companies as recently announced by the Federal Government.
The Federal Government had last week announced the planned takeover of Kano, Benin and Kaduna electricity distribution companies by Fidelity Bank Plc after the bank initiated action to take over the boards of the three Discos.
It also announced through the Bureau of Public Enterprises that with the takeover of Ibadan Disco by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, the BPE had obtained approval from NERC to appoint an interim managing director for the distressed power firm.
The government also stated that it was restructuring the management and board of Port Harcourt Disco to forestall the imminent insolvency of the utility. The notice was signed by the Director-General, BPE, Alex Okoh; and Executive Chairman, NERC, Sanusi Garba.
How takeover may affect Nigerians
While the announcement may serve as a source of excitement to many Nigerians who have had to bear the brunt of the incompetence of the Discos, industry watchers have argued for caution.
According to those who spoke to InfactNG, the planned takeover may cause a long drawn battle between the Discos and the Federal Government, which would lead to a protracted crisis thereby affecting the ordinary Nigerians.
“ This is not something that would be done in a tidy way,” says Mark Soyemi, a player in the industry. “ What I foresee is a long crisis which the Discos will use as an excuse for not supplying power to the ordinary Nigerians. Already as you know, there are several court cases with different entities laying claims to one Disco or the other, so, rather than solve a problem in the short term, we may just be creating one in the long run,” he said.
Speaking to the media, the receiver/manager’s nominee of Integrated Energy Distribution and Marketing Company said that it was the legal and beneficial owner of 60 per cent (controlling and managing) shareholding interests in the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company.
Also, the management of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company Plc had argued on Wednesday that there was no legal basis for the takeover of the company following the purported activation of the call on its collateralised shares by Fidelity Bank.