FGN takes over 5 DisCos as they become insolvent

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Story from ADah ABAH, Abuja

Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN), in what it termed restructuring, has taken over the board and management of five (5) electricity distribution companies (DisCos) who were unable to repay loans obtained to pay for assets acquired at privatisation in 2013.

This was contained in a statement jointly signed on Tuesday by the Executive Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, Sanusi Garba, and Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, Alex Okoh.

According to them, the affected companies are Kano Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO), Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) Kaduna Electric, and Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED).

Garba and Okoh explained that the announcement followed Fidelity Bank’s activation of the call on the collaterised shares of KEDCO, BDEC, and Kaduna Electric over their inability to repay loans obtained to pay for assets acquired in the 2013 privatisation exercise.

They added that the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON, would be a placeholder board for IBEDC, while the PHED undergoes restructuring to prevent its imminent insolvency.

The NERC and BPE chiefs said the new boards for the affected DisCos had been approved and the bureau was collaborating with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Ministry of Power to ensure no service disruptions during the transition.

The statement announcing the restructuring reads:
“Today we were informed by Fidelity Bank that it has activated the call on the collateralised shares of Kano, Benin, and Kaduna, Fidelity and AFREXIM, DisCos and that they have initiated action to take over the Boards of these DISCOs and exercise the rights on the shares.

“Fidelity Bank’s action is a contractual and commercial intervention and is between the Core Investors in the DisCos and the lender. BPE is involved because of the 40% shareholding of government in the DisCos.

“Fidelity Bank has informed us that the new Board members of the affected DisCos will be as follows: Kano DisCo: Hasan Tukur (Chairman), Nelson Ahaneku (Member); Rabiu Suleiman (Member); Benin DisCo: KC Akuma, (Chairman), Adeola Ijose (Member), Charles Onwera (Member); Kaduna DisCo: Abbas Jega (Chairman), Ameenu Abubakar (Member), Marlene Ngoyi (Member).

“BPE has nominated Bashir Gwandu (Kano), Yomi Adeyemi (Benin), and Umar Abdullahi (Kaduna) as independent directors to represent government’s 40% interest in the three DisCos respectively, during this transition.

“We are engaging with the Central Bank of Nigeria, as the banking sector regulator, to ensure an orderly transition and to ensure that Fidelity Bank does not hold the DisCos’ shares in perpetuity.

“It is envisaged that the majority interest in the entities would be sold to capable private sector investors willing and able to re-capitalise and manage the entities efficiently.

“We have also received assurances that Fidelity Bank will participate fully in all the ongoing market initiatives aimed at improving the sector, e.g. National Mass Metering Programme.

“In the interim, NERC and BPE met on an emergency basis and activated the Business Continuity Process and and have appointed interim Managing Directors in the affected DisCos as follows: Kano DisCo – Ahmad Dangana;
Benin DisCo – Henry Ajagbawa;
Kaduna DisCo – Yusuf Usman Yahaya.
Also, with the takeover of Ibadan DisCo by AMCON, BPE has obtained approval from NERC to appoint Kingsley Achife as interim Managing Director.

“In a temporary capacity the leadership of AMCON will be a placeholder Board for the Ibadan franchise (Ahmed Kuru – Chair, Eberechukwu Uneze – Member, Aminu Ismail – Member). Oluwaseyi Akinwale will represent the interest of Government on the Board alongside the DG of BPE.

“Lastly, we are re-structuring the management and board of Port Harcourt DisCo to forestall the imminent insolvency of the entity.

“As a condition for support to the entity to meet its market obligations, Iboroma Akpana will take over as the Chairman of the Board. Emmanuel Okotete, Eyo Ekpo, Ismaila Shuaibu and the DG of BPE will form the interim Board. Benson Uwheru will take over as the Managing Director of PHEDC as part of the changes.

“Government will support the activation of emergency funds through the Nigerian Electricity Market Stabilisation Facility to support the entity while it goes through restructuring and repositioning to serve the citizens of the franchise area better.

“We are working with the Minister of Power to ensure no service disruptions during these transitions. We remain committed to supporting the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) to serve Nigerians better.”

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