The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola has asked some power generating companies (GenCos) to be ready to face public scrutiny on supports which government have provided to enhance their operations.
Fashola request came amid litigations against the government by the GenCos over accusations that “special treatment” were allegedly given to two power generating companies–Azure Power West Africa Limited and Accugas Limited.
Hearing on the suit has been fixed for April 16 at a Federal High Court in Abuja.
Speaking with operators in Akwa Ibom on Monday, Fashola while recognising the rights of the GenCos to seek legal redress, however, said they (GenCos) should be ready to open their books on several interventions they have benefited from the government.
The Minister pointed out a “N701 billion payment assurance guarantee to pay their monthly power bills” provided by the Muhammadu Buhari-led government, saying that the GenCos rushed to court when they agreed to a one-week period for government to look into their demands.
“While they (GenCos) 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,” Fashola told operators at Akwa Ibom.
“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 government approved a 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.
“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.
“I am not afraid of the law courts, and will meet you there to vigorously defend our position,” he noted.
Aside legal means to protest their grievances, Fashola said the GenCos had resorted to clandestine moves to sabotage power supply, assuring those ready to do business of government supports.
“Let me say very clearly to all operators that I get reports of many of the clandestine meetings that some of them are holding with a view to disrupt supply for political capital,” he said.
“This is the essence of privatisation. If you bother to look up and around you, you will see solar panels on rooftops.
“The mini-grid regulations allow them to procure 1MW (MegaWatts) without licence. This is bigger than what many traditional generators supply. There is no law that compels them to take public power.
“I will close by imploring those that are truly ready to run the business they have acquired voluntarily to continue to do so with the assurance of government support and partnership.
“As for those who entered the business without understanding it, please brace up for hard work and help us rebuild this country.”