Northern Nigerian Breaking News

Reps query NBET $33m monthly payment for electricity

The House of Representatives on Friday queried the payment of $33 million monthly as power purchase agreement with Azura Power Company by the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET).

Chairman of the House Committee on Finance, James Faleke issued the query at an investigative hearing on plans to sell Independent Power Projects across the country.

He said that it was not in the national interest to commit the country to “such a huge investment without the knowledge of the President and the Federal Executive Council.”

The House also frowned at the claims by the Managing Director of the agency, Nnemeka Eweluka that it did not get the approval of FEC before signing the power purchase agreement with Azura.

The committee equally queried why arbitration process for the Azura Power agreement was domiciled in France and not in Nigeria, while accusing the MD of expunging portions of the agreement that required the opinion of the Minister of Justice before any agreement is signed.

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Defending the company, Eweluka said the power purchase agreement with Azura became operational from 2018, though the initial agreement was signed in 2013 with an addendum in 2014 and 2015.

In his presentation, the NBET MD said Nigerian laws will be used for the arbitration process which will take place in France when there is need for, while saying that the arbitration process was based in France because Azura Power plant has about 15 international investors.

He said the decision to domicile the arbitration process in France is backed by legal opinion of the attorney general. On the state of power in the country, Eweluka said “I am also an electricity consumer. I don’t like it when there are blackouts.

‘’We are in the process of providing enhanced value”. But Faleke noted that “on behalf of Nigerians we are concerned by the agreements you signed with power generation companies and Nigerians are not getting that power. So any document that has to do with those agreements cannot be said to be classified because whatever money we are paying is tax payers’ money, and they will like to know how the funds are being utilized.

“We are interested as a committee to know the officers in charge of these agencies, who signed agreements on behalf of Nigerians. Do they take the necessary things into consideration before signing it? Are Nigerians getting value for money from these agreements? “The power sector has been unable to meet the power needs of Nigerians. We hear of all kinds of bailouts the CBN has made to the power sector without any changes in the power Nigerians receive. Eweluka who says he joined NBET in 2012 as General Counsel and Company Secretary, said that there are about 25 power purchase agreements between Nigeria and investors with the Azura power purchase agreement worth $30 million dollars monthly forming one of such agreements. He explained that the take or pay agreement basically means if I am available, you have an obligation to take and pay. Responding to the approval limit of the Managing Director of NBET, Eweluka said his approval limit is N2.5 million, but that the board of the agency did not have any approval limit and that it also did not have an establishment act.

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