Bartholomew Nnaji, Nigeria’s Minister of Power, has resigned from the cabinet of President Goodluck Jonathan. A statement from the Presidency said Mr. Jonathan had accepted Mr. Nnaji’s resignation with immediate effect.
Mr. C. Don Adinuba, who acted as a senior aide to Mr. Nnaji, also confirmed the minister’s departure from the government.
Prior to returning to Nigeria to set up Geometric Power, a company that engaged in power technology, Mr. Nnaji, who earned a PhD from Virginia Tech, served as a professor of Industrial Engineering at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, as well as University of Pittsburgh.
Mr. Nnaji’s tenure as minister has been mired by recent controversy. Despite testimonies by some Nigerians that power supply had improved under his control, critics had accused him of spending too much money to enable him buy good reports in the media. In addition, labor union leaders have recently questioned his management of their pension fund. Also, recent reports have emerged that companies linked to Mr. Nnaji were engaged in a bid to buy over power plants slated for privatization by his ministry.
A source in the Presidency told Sahara Reporters that President Jonathan demanded that Mr. Nnaji resign.
The source disclosed that President Jonathan used the recent occasion of the ceremony where ministers were made to sign performance bonds to demand that his ministers submit letters of resignation in advance.
Sahara Reporters contacted an associate of the former minister who confirmed that account.
(The Guardian) — Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji yesterday announced his resignation from President Gooduck Jonathan’s cabinet. Already, Jonathan has accepted his resignation.
In a statement yesterday by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, Jonathan thanked Nnaji for his “services to the nation under the present administration and wishes him well in his future endeavours.”
Nnaji’s resignation may not be unconnected with revelations at last Friday’s meeting of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) that companies allegedly owned or linked to the former minister made bids for the Afam Generation Company Limited and Enugu Distribution Company Limited.
Consequently, the Federal Government directed that the bid be revaluated.
The former minister, who arrived at the meeting when the Technical Committee on Privatisation report was being read, allegedly told the NCP that he got to know that a service company which was associated with a power plant he owned before his appointment as minister was identified as a participant in a consortium which put a bid for the Afam plant.
A member of the NCP claimed that Nnaji walked in when the Chairman of the Technical Committee on Privatisation, Mr. Atedo Peterside, was reading the report on the Afam plant and asked for permission to disclose something that had come to his knowledge.
Upon being permitted to speak, Nnaji allegedly told the meeting that he was not aware of the development because he had resigned from all the companies in which he was a director and placed all his shares in a blind trust, administered by other persons who do not disclose the daily business transactions that they engage in to him.
“As a result, they did not disclose to me what they were doing, and I did not know until I received the report of the evaluation team, that they were a minority partner in the consortium,” Nnaji allegedly said.
Nnaji apparently alluded to this yesterday when he lauded the decision of the NCP that bids for the Afam firm be evaluated again because “justice should not only be done but also seen to have been done by all and sundry.”
In a statement signed by his media aide, Ogbuagu Anikwe, Nnaji said a publication by a national daily on the issue did not support the agenda of his administration.
The minister said he was surprised that a newspaper which had been at the forefront of the power reform since the launch of roadmap for the industry in Lagos on August 26, 2010, should fall prey to vested interests which that were bent on rolling back the steady march of the privatisation and the revitalisation of the PHCN companies.
On his part, Vice President Sambo Namadi, who chaired the session was said to have reluctantly agreed for the minister to step aside during the deliberations.
An NCP member confirmed to The Guardian that the meeting decided to set aside the report of the bid evaluation team for Afam plant and raised a fresh one to re-evaluate the bid.
The Guardian learnt that Nnaji did not walk out of the meeting because after announcing his discovery, he requested to be excused from the deliberations of the NCP.
The source said: “The whole process was conducted in a very civilised and business-like manner and as far as the NCP was concerned, the minister didn’t breach any of existing rules in the privatisation exercise. The report is indeed a mix-up of what happened in the meeting and it is unfortunate that people who should inform the general public of government’s policies were doing the wrong thing.”
The NCP unveiled the outcome of the technical evaluation it carried out for the 25 bids for the six generation companies created from the unbundling of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), had faulted the bids for Afam plant and the Enugu outfit
Seven bidders were adjudged successful by the technical team, which prequalified them to have their financial bids open on September 25.
The firms are Phoenix Electricity, Transcorp Consortium and Ampiron Power Distribution Limited, which bid for Ughelli Power Company; CMEC Energy and GPN Nestoil Power Services Limited opted for Sapele Power Company. The NCP prequalified Ampiron Power Distribution Limited, Mainstream Energy Solution Limited and North South Power Company Limited for Geregu, Kainji and Shiroro Power Companies in that order.
According to an NCP official, Nnaji, who was an automatic member of the council by virtue of his office, allegedly told the committee that O & M Solutions of Pakistan, a member of one of the consortia bidding for Afam, had worked as a contractor for Geometric Power, his outfit.
O & M Solutions allegedly has a stake in Skipper Nigeria Limited, which submitted technical and financial bids for Afam on July 17, 2012 the deadline set by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) for the submission of bids for the PHCN firms.
Other companies that made bids for Afam plant were Primeniza Energy Limited and NPG Consortium.
The former minister allegedly admitted that Geometric Power has minority stake in Eastern Electric Nigeria Limited, which submitted technical and financial bids for Enugu Distribution Company Limited.
He attributed the development to inadequate funds and the failure of some oil companies to support his policies.
(Vanguard Nigeria) — President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan yesterday accepted the resignation letter of the Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji. It was however gathered that the former Power Minister was summoned by President Jonathan, over allegation that he (Nnaji) was fronting for him in the privatisation exercise in the energy sector.
The rattled minister, sources said, was surprised by the President’s question and reportedly denied the charge.
The President, the source went on, delivered the final blow when he queried the former minister’s interest in one of the firms involved in the privatisation process. Prof. Nnaji told the President that he had disclosed to the National Council on Privatisation, that he used to have interest in one of the firms bidding to buy the Afam Power plant in Enugu.
An outraged President Jonathan, the source said, told the minister that he ought to have known that there would be conflict of interest in the exercise.
After venting his anger at the minister, Nnaji threw in the towel by offering to step down.
The President, still seething, accepted it immediately.
The former minister has been locked in a dispute with PHCN workers over a myriad of issues for quite a while now.
One source told our correspondent that as a prelude to sending Nnaji packing, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, had openly tended to side with the workers against the embattled minister, when he declared at the meeting that the Federal Government team, headed by the minister had not done enough in the power sector reforms.
“At that point in time, Nnaji felt really humiliated and stood up from his seat and left Anyim to continue the meeting with the PHCN staff,who booed him based on the SGF’s remark, which most of them saw as a confirmation of their allegations against the former minister.
”What really infuriated the former minister was that the SGF tended to see from the workers’ point of view that he had really not done much to advance the cause of the nation and he took offense and stormed out of the meeting,” a source said last night.
Another source pointed out that it was in the middle of the meeting with the PHCN workers and the SGF that President Goodluck Jonathan summoned him to the Presidential Villa and asked him to resign with immediate effect over his alleged conflicting interest in the privatisation process of the PHCN companies.