By Stephen Ubanna
The Fear of Dam of Mono river, which is not up to a tenth of Rivers Nile and Niger by Benin Republic and Togo, that may cut off supply of water to Kanji and the country’s two other Hydro plants and subsequent drop in the country’s electricity generation appears to have informed why the government gave the nod to the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading, NBET, plc, to supply Bulk Electricity to the neighbouring West African countries of Niger Republic, Benin and Togo.
Recall that the two West African countries had conceived the Adjala Hydroelectricity Project in 1987, expected to constitute the second phase of the development of the Mono river. The Benin Electricity Corporation, which is the prime Contractor responsible for the building and operating the installations or the production and transmission of electricity supply for both countries which currently depend on Nigeria for their electricity supply. The multi- billion dollar project, according to Bunions sources was conducted by Coyne and Bellier with Loic Treboal, Mntpellier, an Aquatic Environmental Consultant from France.
Insider sources of the Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry, NESI, informed the Value News that the country currently supplies 300 Megawatts of Electricity to Niger, Benin Republic and Togo, the three neighbouring West African countries. The bulk electricity supplies to these countries was initially transacted on credit to discourage Benin and Togo from going ahead with their plan to Dam Mono river to avoid the unfolding situation of the Nile river between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.
The argument in government circles was that if Benin Republic and Togo , should go ahead with the Adjala Hydro project which is the second phase of the development of Mono river Dam, , it will affect the supply of water to Kanji, Shiroro and Jebba Hydro-power plants in the country.
This may have informed why the government quickly signed a Multilateral Energy Sales Agreement with the neighbouring West African countries without considering on how to collect the payment from the Cross- Border Consumers. The countries may have seen it as Nigeria’s responsibility to supply them Electricity as they never bordered on how to settle the debts for use of power.
Garba Shehu, a senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhairi on Media and Publicity in apparent reaction to a story in the Punch Newspapers that the country is providing electricity to other West African countries when it has not satisfied the local market had said that ’’the essence of the bilateral agreements by which the country gave the countries power is to ensure that they do not build dams on the river Niger’’.
The two French –speaking countries, Benin Republic and Togo, may have adhered to the terms of the agreement as they were said to have refused to bow to pressures from France to build the Dam on river Mono. The fallout was that NBET, officials have been careful in demanding the billions of naira owed the country by the debtor nations.
Initially, the three countries were said to have owed the country $100 million. The debt situation was so worrisome that Usman Mohammed, a former Managing Director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, had sent a warning signal to the countries that Nigeria may no longer be supplying electricity to them on credit ‘’ if they fail to settle the outstanding debts’’ . They may have taken the warning serious as they quickly started making payments in order to offset the huge debts owed the country.
A Statement issued by Shehu, the Kastina state born Nigerian President Media Aide said the total debt owed by the three neighbouring West African countries” Niger, Benin and Togo as at 2019, was $69 million. He disclosed tha t’’much of the debts have been paid by them’’ . He gave an instance of Niger Republic which owes only $16 million and Benin, $4 million. The cumulative debt owed by the two countries, sum up to N20 million, which is equivalent to about N1.4 billion.
Prior to the renewed drive to recover the huge debts owed the country from the bulk electricity supply to the these West African countries, Niger, Benin and Togo, NBET, at the instance of the President, was said to have negotiated new terms for the supply of electricity to the countries.
The Value News learnt that the negotiation was to ensure that international sale of electricity by the oil –rich Nigeria to the Societe’ Nig’erienne d’Electricite, NGELEC, and Communaute’ Electrigue due Be’nin (Togo/Benin- National Electricity Company, reflect the appropriate Commercial terms.
The agreement, it was gathered made it possible for the country to enter into appropriate Commercial terms for the sale of electricity to NIGELEC and CEB, under the ’’cost of service and price cap based incentive regulation mechanism’’. Energy analysts believe that the new terms for the sale of electricity to the neighbouring West African consumer nations , reflected a more favourable Commercial terms than the initial regulatory prices adopted before.
Perhaps, to give a bite to the activities of NBET, Sale Mamman, an Engineer and minister of Power, had made a recommendation to the President for the sack of Marilyn Amobi, the Managing Director of the agency which was said to have been approved. Acting on the Presidential approval, the minister had sacked the NBET Chief Executive Officer, CEO. She has become the latest victim to fall into the sledge hammer of Buhari in the recent time. The NBET, CEO, sack is coming after Joi Nunieh, was removed as the Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, in Controversial Circumstances by the President on the recommendation of Godswill Akpabio, a former governor of Akwa Ibom state and now minister minister, ministry of Niger Delta.
Aaron Artmas, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Communications had said Amobi, the former NBET , boss, was replaced by Nnaemeka Eweluka, a Lawyer and the agency’s General Manager and Secretary to strengthen the operations of the agency.
But Hajia Zainab Ahmed, minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning will not agree with Mamman, her Counterpart, in the ministry of Power over the sack of Amobi, insisting that she must complete her tenure as the CEO, of NBET , a Bulk Electricity Company .
The Power minister may have made his Counterpart in the Finance, Budget and National Planning ministry to understand that he has the Presidential approval to do so. Hajia Ahmed, was said to have also claimed that she got another letter from the Presidency which secured Mrs. Amobi the Completion of her tenure in office.
The question on the lips of most people is : between the two ministers who are said to be close allies of the President will win his heart to have his or her way?. Nigerians are watching to see how Buhari will settle the confusion apparently created by him in order to meet the demand of the ministers.
Note that Mamman, the minister of Power is the Chairman of the NBET Board Of Directors , a Company that is a major player in the power sector. This is why Hajia Ahmed may likely lose the battle to return Amobi to her former office. Indeed, Nigerians are watching to see how the the duo will end the power struggle.