Minister for Power to inaugurate TCN board next week

Chinedu Nebo, Minister of Power, is moving to inaugurate the board of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) next week, sources close to the ministry have told BusinessDay. 

Inaugurating the board of TCN will be a critical milestone in the current power reform process as it would empower Manitoba Hydro International (MHI) to appropriately take over the running of the company.

Until now, powerful forces at the ministry have been deliberately delaying the inauguration of the board in a bid to remain in charge of the significant fund that goes through TCN. An independent TCN will be in charge of disbursing the over N46 billion subsidy funds annually and about N33 billion in transmission contracts in the 2013 budget.

“Nebo is in favour of the current power reforms. He will inaugurate the board.”

The inauguration of the board will mean that the minister will no longer have control over the day-to-day operations of the TCN.

Since former Power Minister Bart Nnaji resigned, powerful forces within the ministry have done everything possible to obstruct the power reform programme ensuring that MHI, which was duly contracted to manage TCN, was never given the authority to take over the management of TCN.

The new board of the TCN is headed by Herman Tukur, a two-time chairman of the board of revenue mobilisation committee, who is considered very forthright and a man who can ensure that the power reforms reach their logical conclusion.

“The fear of Tukur is what is preventing the inauguration of the board”, said a source.

The delay with the inauguration of the TCN board is also the reason Manitoba Hydro International (MHI) has not been able to take over the management of TCN several months when they should have.

“The more the inauguration of the TCN board is delayed, the more the ministry will be able to control how the subsidy funds are used or misused”, sources close to the power sector had told BusinessDay.

Subsidy funds meant to be used to pay for the cost of power, capacity expansion and maintenance of the distribution networks have been used by the ministry for other purposes that cannot be determined, according to the source.

“The power ministry has finished spending the N34 billion meant to pay subsidy on electricity consumed, even the unearned portion of the subsidy,” he said.

Though the subsidy is meant to pay suppliers of gas to generation companies and the power supplied by distribution companies below the market price, BusinessDay learnt that gas suppliers are still being owed for gas already supplied and also the distribution companies are still being owed, raising questions on what the N34 billion subsidy funds were spent on.

Also, BusinessDay learnt that an additional N11 billion released recently has also been committed even before the ministry gets the money.

The expected inauguration of the TCN board is expected to put an end to the uncertainty created in the power reform process with the inability of MHI to perform its assigned contract

Author: nmmin

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