Tuesday , 20 March 2018

I am not afraid of the law courts, Fashola tells GENCOs

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has disclosed that he is not afraid of meeting to iron out issues with the Electricity Generation Companies, GENCOs in court.

The GENCOs, had early this month dragged the Federal Government before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, over alleged preferential treatment to two of its competitors with intent to harm their business interests.

The GENCOs had said members were on the verge of collapse over debts in excess of N1 trillion currently and generate 80 per cent of the power consumed in Nigeria.

They had accused the Federal Government of giving preferential treatment to Azura Power West Africa Limited and Accugas Limited to the detriment of the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry and the power sector as a whole.

But the minister on Monday, while speaking at the 25th Monthly Meeting with Operators in the Power Sector hosted by Ibom Power at the Ibom Hall, IBB Way, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, said he would meet them in court over the allegations.

“I am not afraid of the law courts, and will meet you there to vigorously defend our position. Lately, I have read reports that some Generation Companies (Gencos) (not Ibom Power) have gone to court, filing claims against the government. That is their right and their prerogative. It is better than self-help, and it is consistent with the rule of law, which underpins our democracy.

“While they seek refuge in a court of law, they must be ready to face scrutiny in the court of public opinion. The court of public opinion is a court of conscience and morality. In the court of public opinion, they must be ready to tell the citizens how they felt when other groups went to court to stop the implementation of tariffs approved by NERC in 2016.

“They must explain to this public court whether they went to court before the government approved an N701 Billion payment Assurance Guarantee to pay their monthly power bills. They must disclose to this court that they owed debts, from the pre-Buhari era, because their income had reduced to less than 50 percent.

“They must disclose to this court that they now receive about 80 percent income and that this Government is now paying them revenues collected from international customers from the Republics Benin, Niger and Togo, in Dollars, as against the Naira payment they used to receive.”

Fashola challenged the Gencos to tell the courts how they felt when some DisCos went to court to stop the enforcement of Provision of Promissory Notes, which was a condition that denied them access to the CBN low-interest loans, adding that government had promised to look into their needs one week before they went to court.

“They must tell the court of public opinion that the reason for going to court is because Government is making 100 percent payment to a new Genco who has a different contract with a Partial Risk Guarantee, which they do not have. They must also disclose to both courts that they held a meeting with government and tabled their demands, which government promised to look into one week before they went to court.

“They must, in good conscience, tell the two courts whether one week was enough time, to go to court and whether this action at the time when the sector is making progress does not suggest an intention to blackmail government and hold the citizens hostage.”




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