Electricity Deal:Why Nigeria Fears Dam Of Mono River By Benin Republic And Togo And Subsequent Drop In Power Generation

 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.

Eng.Sale Mamman, Minister 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.

Hajia Ahmed: Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning

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.

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