*PHCN gets matching orders on issuance of pre-paid meters

*17 out of 22 PHCN auctioned equipment now recovered, some sold to faceless Mr Auction 

The nation’s steel rolling companies, including Ajaokuta, Itakpe and Jos would soon buzz with activities again, courtesy of the National Assembly. He also disclosed that 17 out of the 22 containers of the Power Holding Company Plc (PHCN) which were irregularly auctioned at the ports as overstayed goods by the Customs Service have now been recovered, while intense combing of nooks and crannies of Nigeria continues for the remaining 5. 

This was disclosed on Sunday by Senator Chris Ngige(Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Anambra Central) who is the deputy chairman of the Senate Committee during sallah media chat with journalists in Awka.

The senator used the opportunity to give account of his stewardship in the Senate so far, told journalists that so much was spent on the abandoned and near moribund steel companies by the administration of the former President Shehu Shagari, before they were abandoned.

With more 80% completed and above N8billion already sunk into the companies by the government then, the Senate therefore wants too bring all of them back to life. He also stated that they want to assess and grade all the nation’s metallurgical institutes.

According to him, the National Metallurgical Institute at Onitsha which has capacity to train 150 persons annually has been granted accreditation by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) for the award of diploma certificates. The institutes have been asked to liberalize their admission and training of students in the interest of the nation’s technical manpower needs.

On the electricity crisis that has been weighing down on the economy, the Deputy Chairman bemoaned the discovery of his committee that the Kainji Power station has been operating far below installed capacity. That two of its chambers/turbines are presently docile and idle, stressing that what we have all over the nation are dilapidated structures that cannot stand today’s energy needs and pressures. More so, since the establishment of the Egbin Thermal station, no new power generating station has been built in the country. It was therefore not ideal for a growing and forward looking economy like Nigeria, the Senator noted.   

To compound the situation further, above 80% of the maintenance and refurbishment contracts have not been done, while terms of the contracts were clearly and inexplicably skewed in favour of the contractors. It provided for major part of the burden-transportation and clearance of the equipment was borne by the Federal Government, and 22 out of the containers of the imported equipment needed for the maintenance were found by the Senate to have been auctioned away by the Customs Service as ‘overstayed goods’. Our committee has since written the Managing Director of the Power Holding Company Plc and the Customs demanding return of the equipment.

Ngige said that shocking revelations showed that some of the auctioned items were sold to a faceless Mr Auction and that so far 17 of the containers have been recovered. That his committee has given matching orders that from Nov 1, 2011, every container of the PHCN Plc must be cleared within two weeks of their arrival at the ports, because we need to fix the energy supply in the nation, for our factories and industries to bounce back to life. We want to stop the flight and drain out of Nigeria, Ngige added.

“So we want to ensure energy gets equitably distributed such that even in situations of load-shedding, it must be equitable too. We have also instructed PHCN to step up action on public enlightenment on how to avoid energy wastage. They were equally mandated to stop what was described as special billing system. It was a rip-off on he people. PHCN has also been mandated to provide everyone who needs the pre-paid meter.”

The senator disclosed that his committee has vouched to assist the PHCN to recover all they were owed by every government agency, even if they have to resort to deducting the bills at source, through active participation of the federal Ministry of Finance.

He assured every citizen that the energy supply would record significant improvement soon, as all the abandoned contracts and projects of PHCN in parts of the country be resuscitated to enable the moribund and broken-down industries come back to life at once. For his Anambra electorates, he informed them that the 133 kva substation at Awada-Obosi, 132 kva at Ifite-dunu and another 132 kva at Awka which was abandoned after the turning of the surd would be resuscitated beginning February 2012.