BENIN CITY- Edo State Government has given the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) and Ossiomo Power and Infrastructure Power Company Limited up to today ( Friday) as the deadline to reach a final agreement on a power generation and distribution plan in the State.
The State Deputy Governor, Rt Hon Comrade Philip handed down this warning in his office in Benin, saying that if they allow government take the initiative and do it its own way, the agreement will be binding on all the parties.
The Deputy Governor read out the riot act, Wednesday at a meeting in the Government House, Benin. The warning was against the background of legal bottlenecks caused by the suit instituted by BEDC seeking to stop the implementation of the bilateral agreement meant to prepare ground for an efficient generation and distribution of power to the satisfaction of consumers in Edo State.
Shaibu told the combating electricity firms that he was giving them 48 hours to burry their differences and chart the way forward for efficient distribution of power in the State. The 48 hours deadline expires today, Friday. Aside this, the Deputy Governor insisted that there will be no representation, ” I want to see the CEOs of these companies at the meeting and not their representatives please.”
He said that failure to come to a compromise would force government, as an interested party and equal stakeholder in the tripartite committee, It will take its overriding decision for onward transfer to the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) in the intrest of Edo people. .
He lamented that despite all the efforts at setting up a tripartite committee, there has been a failure to generate power for the use of consumers in the State, adding that it has frustrated government’s plan to grow an economic hub and other businesses.
Shaibu emphasized, “We are in line with what we have agreed to achieve. All we need is to have a system where all our people would have the benefit of having light 24 hours which would allow the state achieve its economic programmes.
We all agree that without a steady supply of light, no government or state can actually move to progress in terms of developing its area. Worse of this is when the cost of production everyday goes higher and higher because of the cost of using power generating sets.
This is what has formed government’s opinion to involve other stakeholders in the business of powering our state. We have had a memorandum of understanding with many private sectors and, one of them is Ossiomo Power Project Plan that is trying to provide power in Edo State.
But we have setback because Ossiomo and BEDC have failed to partner and work together for the purpose of generating and distributing efficient electricity to our people despite the tripartite committee setup. We felt the committee would bring both parties together to agree and work to achieve the desired results.
Yes, BEDC has a licence from the Federal Government and Edo State also has its own licence on domesticating power within its own area which we got but we don’t want to delve into your territory and that is what brought up the need for this tripartite committee meeting.
We have foot dragged for almost a year now trying to get both parties to agree on working together in intrest of our people. The last time we met, the committee submitted a report on agreement already reached by both parties. What was not agreed upon was the issue of the valuation whether it should be at the beginning or at the point of handing over to BEDC.
For us as government a government, all we are interested in is to have steady power supply in our state. Any company that will guarantee that is what we need, it is the one we are going to work with. That is what Edo people would want to have in their state. We are ready to work with BEDC to the extent that power gets to our various houses and businesses. We are also ready to work with Ossiomo to the extent that power gets to our houses, offices and business premises.
It is in this light that the tripartite committee has till Friday ( today,)to conclude the process that was started last year for onward transfer to Abuja for their own implementation. Edo State Government would take its own position after Friday if both parties refuse to agree on the way forward.
Our own way forward is that the issue of valuation should be dealt with at the point of handing over. But both parties should agree on a valuer that evaluates whatever is left for the purpose of transfer. BEDC also has the right to state, ‘we are not even interested after ten years and Ossiomo also has the right to also look for means to transfer its power.
I am giving 48 hours from today till Friday for the head of BEDC Mrs. Olufunke Iyabo Osibodu and the head of Ossiomo Dr. Uwa Egiehon to meet here for us to conclude and sign the bilateral agreement. Failure for any parties to be here on Friday, government would take its own stand on the way forward on how we want the issue of power to be dealt with in the state.
The only issue holding this bilateral agreement as we already know, I have already told you our stand on it but issues have to be addressed by you before coming here by Friday and inserted into this agreement. Failure by both or any of the parties to be here would not stop us as government to communicate to both or any party that is not here the decision government has taken.
That decision would be final. We are interested in having the private sector join us in driving the process of governance. What we are doing as a government is to provide the enabling environment for all of you to have your businesses thrive. We believe this is how our economy can grow to the level we want by involving the private sector. This is how economies are grown elsewhere.
The private sector cannot drive our economy when the catalyst, power, that is supposed to be there is being frustrated by either BEDC or Ossiomo. We want this agreement signed by Friday and after the agreement we would move forward to have both parties coexist as agreed. Failure to appear I repeat, would not hinder the decision of government by Friday. It is the deadline, we are not ready to shift the date, enough of this foot dragging.”
Though one could not get the position of the BEDC as at the time of filing this report, an official of Ossiomo Power and Infrastructure Power Co. Ltd who spoke off camera talked about challenges encountered at keeping with agreements, delay and the litigation issue it had to deal with which was instituted by BEDC which has delayed power generation and supply.
Explaining he said, “Under the eligible customer regulation as announced in May 2017, this license gave Ossiomo the authority to sell power to Edo State Government. Regulations were made in April 2017, but came into force by September /October 2017.
Part of the conditions to satisfy that process was coming up with a bilateral agreement between DISCOS, BEDC and Ossiomo solely with respect to the new distribution and transmission line. In October 2018, we signed a bilateral agreement with two issues outstanding. One is the valuation, and the second is operations and maintenance.
In that agreement we stated our position. BEDC was supposed to go back to its management to ascertain its own position. An agreement already exists. But since October 2018, they have refused to clearly state their position. That is where we are.
Our primary focus is on generation but the reality is the transmission line was not available so we agreed with Edo state government that in addition to the power plant we will also build a transmission line. Under the agreement we had, we agreed to run the lines for ten years but if the BEDC is interested we sell it to them on the basis of mutual agreement.
The issue of purchase and maintenance was the first issue while the other one comes up in ten yesrs time when they either decide to buy or we sell to them. But we at Ossiomo said we are not going to wait for something that is going to happen after construction or after a time. We decided that if they (BEDC) cannot make up their mind we would construct. That is where we are. That is the context. We refuse to be delayed. This is the reality of the situation.”