As erratic power supply continues to stifle Nigeria’s economic growth and development, a new report by the Centre for Health Equity and Justice (CEHEJ) has revealed how a globally acclaimed giant of electricity – General Electric (GE) and other electricity contractors had for decades under-performed and failed in delivering their contractual obligations to the federal government and the people of Nigeria.
The 70-page report entitled: ‘Kept in Darkness”—Holding Non-Performing Electricity Contractors Accountable’, launched in Lagos, Thursday, exposed how the power sector corruption has robbed the country of the much needed megawatt additions. It also carefully reviewed numerous electricity contracts awarded by the Nigerian government which had failed despite committing huge amount of scarce funds into such projects.
According to the report, GE, said to be a development partner of Nigeria for several years has collected more money from Nigeria more than any other entity and has disappointed the most. “General Electric (GE) did not give anything back to Nigeria in exchange for the billions of dollars it has taken out of the country but that GE and other failed contractors have offered the government and people of Nigeria general darkness.” The report stated.
Pesenting the report to the media, Dr. Yemi Oke, an Associate Professor, Energy/Electricity Law, Faculty of Law, University of Lagos disclosed that “In the Course of the investigations culminating in this report, it was discovered that some of the Contracts awarded were for purposes or projects that were not feasible, while others although feasible, were awarded to fictitious, non-functional or non-existent companies which are in other words referred to as shell companies in that they exist only on paper. Of graver worry is the fact that most of the projects for which the contracts were awarded, up until now, remain unattended to, either totally unattended or inexplicably abandoned half-way.”
Oke who lamented over the profligacy in the power sector, said the privatization of the sector had failed to stop government from spending heavily on the sector, worrying that a larger chunk of the money spent so far has gotten into the wrong hands and shaddy contractors aided by their co-conspirators in government.
Enunciating on some of the failed power projects, Oke stated that “of the reported or documented cases of under-performing contracts awarded by the Federal Government of Nigeria in the power sector, those awarded to the contractors General Electric (GE and Rockson) with the Client (Federal Ministry of Power) for the 215MW Kaduna Power Plant appear most suspicious, shoddy, and reckless.”
The report noted that “the study pays particular attention to the GE/ROCKSON 215MW Kaduna power plant project due to its importance, net potentials to the Nigerian power sector as well as the level of corruption and reckless connivance leading to huge economic losses to Nigeria and its citizens.
“This contract represents a typical case of uniqueness in power sector corruption through the award of contract, as further outlined by the curious dimension of the contract in the absence of a termination clause in the contract.
“This is particularly significant in view of the that the contract does not provide for what the Federal Ministry of Power could do in the event of failure by the Contractor as has happened in this project. The report is curious that the project has no provision for a mandatory take over and completion of the work. By the nature and structure of the contract, an impression has been created that GE simply used the contract as a scheme to dump equipment on the Government of Nigeria and disappear.”
Speaking with The New Diplomat, Executive Director, CEHEJ, Mr. Timothy Adewale noted that it’s no longer fashionable to continue to heap the blame only on the government, DisCos and GenCos alone, without exposing the damage being done by the contractors in the private sector.
“People have been focusing on the officials alone and the government, but we thought we need to focus on the private sector too. When you look at those making corruption to thrive, there’s no way one can take away the private sector and that’s why we’re are beaming search light on the private sector electricity contractors.”
“People took money and failed to deliver and that’s unfair to the Nigerian people. The wealth of the people should be used in the best interest of the people. We will be following up on this to further drive this advocacy,” Adewale added.
Meanwhile, while reiterating that “GE has brought general darkness to Nigeria and should like all other failed contractors be held accountable”, the report finally recommends to the Federal Government, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) to bring to book those found wanting in the failed contracts.
Reacting to the content of the report, Representatives of the Special Assistant to the President on Justice Reform, Mr. Benjamin Okolo assured that the government “will interrogate the report and used the report to interrogate systems. The report will be presented to the people at the law enforcement to ensure things are put in place.”
Also, the Director of Procurement, federal Ministry of Power, Engr. Ahmed Abdul promised that the ministry will study the report and appropriately advise the government on the issues raised.
Others at report launch who promised to work to ensure the full implementation of the recommendations contained in the report include: the representatives of the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, the Director, head of FOI, Federal Ministry of Justice (Abuja), Mr. Ichibor Gowon, the National Coordinator of Open Government Partnership in Nigeria, Mr , Mrs Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu, and Mr Ibrahim Magu Chairman Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) who was represented by Mr Osita Nwajah, Director Public Affairs EFCC.
The event was also attended by Barrister Abiodun Ajayi; Olanrewaju Suraju, Executive Director, Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC); Olusegun Elemo, Executive Director Paradigm Leadership Support Initiatives (PLSI); the International President of the African Women Lawyers’ Association (AWLA); representatives of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).