Nigeria’s lingering Energy Crises: ‘Conspiracy of the Untouchables’

Those benefitting from the prolonged blackout in Nigeria are the same people in the corridors of power, who have even received National Awards and are believed to be above the law, writes Ohia Israel

The duo of Salisu Ibrahim and Jamilu Isiaka are childhood friends. They grew up in the same environment where they were playmates. The two friends, who are now over 25, have continued to worry why the same thing they heard when they were little kids is still the norm rather than the exception in Nigeria.
Policies upon promises of electricity for all are what they have continued to hear without any positive outcome. Emeka Uko and Uche John, who are now 30, have their own story to tell. They too stated that they have continued to hear the same old story during dry season and lack of water in the Kainji Dam, ditto Shiroro Dam. The same old story has been on for years and the Nigerian people are sick and tired of what they call blackmail by the privileged few who are involved in the importation of generators and accessories.
When the Hon. Ndudi Elumelu-led Power Probe Committee swung into action, many Nigerians were waiting for the outcome of that report and that after the report those indicted will be prosecuted. But the hopes of Nigerians have been dashed because those indicted have not been brought to book, even though they have put Nigeria into perpetual darkness. They are free, flaunting their wealth to and from.
DESERT HERALD investigations have dug out “the faces of the untouchables”, many of whom have been given National Honours and various Awards for shortchanging the Nigerian nation and of course its people. Some of them that should have been under questioning from the Anti-graft agencies are still holding public offices and even up until date, the $16 billion that was alleged to have been wasted on the power sector by the former President Obasanjo government, remains shrouded in mystery.
Besides, individuals who were indicted by the probe panel and who were alleged to own a number of companies, were also indicted for non-execution of the contracts for which they collected big money for without execution. There were instances where the contracts showed a great deal of vulgar ineptitude but it was overlooked for self-serving reasons. One such company that melted away after collecting 80% mobilization is Chrome Energy owned by Emeka Offor, while in the same vein there is  Harlesden Engineering traced to Senator Ikechukwu Obiora and also not leaving behind Rockson Engineering owned by Sir Arumemi Johnson of the Arik Air. These, according to an opinion, are some of the bad eggs in the system.
The law in Nigeria is no respecter of ordinary individuals in the country, while highly placed individuals who own uncountable companies are above the law. However, it is not hard to decipher that the socio-political status of these individuals has indeed hampered and hindered the recommendation of the panel. More astonishingly to the Nigerian people is that another committee was set up, which is the review committee and not only did the so called review committee cleared all those who had earlier been accused of these wrongdoing, but the committee went on to submit that no fraud was evidenced in the report of the probe committee. This then shows that the Nigerian Government has decided to forgo the recommendation of the Elumelu Committee.
Moreover, the brazen pillaging of Nigeria’s National funds through the use of the Nigeria Independent Power Project (NIPP) and the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) did indeed lessen the national aptitude to as much of importance provide electricity power to Nigerians which has also caused the across-the-board turn down in prolific business behaviour and wearing down of competitiveness of Nigerian goods in the world market.
Nigeria was also affected adversely as reflected by what has come to be known as the cruel deprivation at the highest possible level, of the class, which  George Moody-Stuart (1994) characterized as “grand corruption”, a phenomenon of developing countries “usually involving senior officials and politicians”. In other societies laws are respected irrespective of class, status, or whatever; grand corruption has to do with the Penal Codes/Act, this is because grand corruption indeed impact derogatorily from the standard of living and quality of life. In fact, it is regarded as an economic crime against humanity which divests citizen of the wherewithal for the good life.
Faces of the untouchables indicted by the Probe Panel.
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR
It is on record that the probe panel recommended that former President Olusegun Obasanjo should be called to account for the recklessness in that sector during his tenure and that the ICPC and EFCC should investigate him. However irony has become the order of the day as it is an open secret that the Ota Chicken farmer has left office untouchable and still holds major political position in the country having just resigned as the BOT chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Dr Segun Agagu
He was one of the Power Ministers that held office during the time this $16 billion on power was wasted. It will be recalled that he became the governor soon after he stepped down as the Minister of Power. According to the Probe panel Agagu during his tenure as the power minister, was found to have unregistered companies and allegedly received huge contracts and even the committee confronted him over that evidence that contracts were awarded during his period as the minister without following due process.  He told the panel that it was not his duty and role to authenticate the official standing of the companies that were awarded contracts by the ministry under his watch. It is obvious that both Agagu and Obasanjo are still close up till this moment and he remains one of the major forces in the PDP in Ondo State.
Senator Liyel Imoke
The former Senator, who now is a governor, was also accused and was also recommended by Elumelu committee for prosecution. According to the Probe report it was discovered that Imoke subverted the process laid down for the reform process  by the Federal Government as he stubbornly refused to comply with the spirit and letter of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act 2005, especially as regards the transition from the initial holding company PHCN to the successor companies, thereby stifling the transitional institutional bodies required to facilitate the emergence of a viable electricity market. It was on the report also that Imoke used Presidential Anticipatory Approvals to however tele-guide the awards of contracts to prearranged bodies as there was no due process, abuse in the payments of NIPP projects, with the BMPIU being relegated to the role of providing retroactive certification thereafter; unruly exploitation of tender procedure of PHCN and NIPP. However even after being indicted by the Probe panel, Imoke has continued to show more relevance in the PDP and just recently he was re-elected as the governor of Cross River State. It was also apparent that he was not on the wanted list of the EFCC even when the EFCC has of recent slammed a six- count charge against the former governor of Bayelsa, Timipre Sylva, just few days after he was sacked as the Bayelsa governor by the court.
Engr. G.O.P Osakue, CEO TCN,
The CEO of TCN was indicted for being responsible for the manipulation of tenders, abuse of due process and also premeditated over-scooping of transmission projects. He was also involved in the ineffectiveness and crass negligence of obligation in respect of management of transmission contracts awarded since 2001, all of which remain uncompleted to date in spite of payments exceeding 80% of contract costs having been made to the respective contractors and also incompetence and gross dereliction of duty in the repeated award of contracts to contractors that have failed consistently on previous uncompleted and abandoned projects.
Alhaji Abdulhamid Ahmed, former Minister of State Energy
He also deliberately manipulated due process; he also was indicted by the report for flagrant abuse of the due process, gross abuse of financial procedure in the awards of contracts and payments especially during the ending days of Obasanjo regime. He single handedly initiated request to the President and also he procured approvals for enormous and dubious expenses in respect of Papalanto Phase II, Omotosho Phase II, Geregu Phase II, Alaoji Phase II, Mambilla Package 1,  Zungeru Hydro, Omoku Expansion, Gbarain-Ubie Expansion and Egbema Expansion (9 additional GE Frame 9 turbines to Rockson International) which were devoid of due process conformity for contract award and certification for payment.
Engr. Joseph Makoju,
The former MD of PHCN who later becomes the Special Adviser to the President on Electric Power, was indicted for gross ineptitude in the running of PHCN, the sector modification and also the NIPP.
Engr. Mike Ezeudenna, AGM (Lines), TCN,
In his own case the panel indicted him for being the architect and master minder of the intentional over-scooping of communication lines projects in PHNC and NIPP. He also stage-managed tender valuation progression, doubling-up of projects within PHCN as well as between PHCN and NIPP (2nd Benin – Onitsha 330kV Single-circuit Transmission Line; 3rd Benin – Onitsha 330kV Single-circuit Transmission Line) and also disgusting mistreatment of due process.

Engr. (Dr.) C.E Ifesie, Head Transmission TCN and Project Manager (Transmission) NIPP,
The Elumelu Probe Panel also indicted Ifesie for his alleged connivance in an intentional over-scooping of transmission lines jobs in PHCN and NIPP, and duplication of projects within PHCN as well as between PHCN and NIPP (2nd Benin – Onitsha 330kV Single-circuit Transmission Line; 3rd Benin – Onitsha 330kV Single-circuit Transmission Line). The said head of transmission was also found to have exhibited ineffectiveness and vulgar disregard of duty even as transmission contracts have been awarded since 2002. Moreover aside all these, contracts awarded were not even completed even when it was obvious that payments made have surpassed 80% of contract costs to the respective contractors which also led to the derelict and fragmentary projects which are (ABB, Charnel Engineering, Chris-Ejike, Pivot Engineering); abuse of office in award of contracts to himself through relatives and proxies (Soltek, Union Allied Engineering).
Engr. C.N.O Nwachukwu, Chairman Technical Committee and General Project Manager (NIPP)
He was charged by the committee for his negligence which became porous and gross in nature and he also was said to have shown lack of skill in the intangible development of NIPP projects which was clear in the total drab breakdown in running the NIPP program; while he was charged for deliberately manipulating the project as there was abuse of process shown in the procurement due process certification for contract award for NIPP Gas EPC Lot 3. There was also  tremendously pitiable professional judgment in recommending the award of 3Nos. Power stations EPC (Gbarain-Ubie, Omoku and Egbema) contracts to Rockson Engineering without considering  the contractor’s lack of capacity to execute these contracts alongside the Alaoji Phases I and II projects, there was also lack of ability, unethical demeanor in proposing  the spreading out of scope for Egbema, Gbarain-Ubie and Omoku power plants and award of same to Rockson Engineering, mindful of the contractor’s lack of capacity to successfully execute these projects. He never also visited the sites even as he claimed that he has visited the sites during the committee probe.
Engr. Sam Gekpe, MD/CEO, Rural Electrification Agency (REA)
Even when it was obvious that offices were set up in various parts of the country, REA under Dr. Gekpe’s watchful failed to check real jobs which also caused duplication in award of contracts.  However, there was a case where REA projects awarded by the Federal Government were found to have already been taken over and executed by State Governments while others were awarded by both State and Federal Governments which then portrayed the projects as dual awards for the same projects thereby leading to financial loss for the country. Also there were some cases where some contractors were seen not to have visited project sites after collecting mobilization fees while others merely erected poles, discarded the projects and never revisited the site.
Mr. J.A. Olotu, Managing Director, NDPHC/NIPP
In his own case he was indicted for gross incompetence, abuse of due process which was seen in the 1000% overpricing of NIPP distribution projects done under his watch from October 2006.
Engr. I. Onuoha, Deputy Chairman, Technical Committee
He was also charged for unpleasant negligence and incompetence in wide-ranging projects running and expansively murky malfunction in supervision of projects under the NIPP program.
Engr. Emmanuel Okonkwo, Project Manager Distribution, NIPP
He was also indicted for his dastardly task when he presided over the more than 1000% overpricing of NIPP distribution contracts.
Engr. Tope Onadipe, Project Manager Gas, NIPP
He was to be involved in the neglect of due process, sham procurement of BMPIU contract award certifications and also revocation of contracts. He was also charged for confusing the Federal Executive Council to secure ratification of award of contract to Messrs. IOEC/Kaztec Consortium in respect of NIPP Gas EPC Lot 3.
Mr. J.C.W Balami, Head Finance NIPP and AGM Finance PHCN
For an alleged role in chairing over the breaching of financial plan which resulted in overpayments to contractors on NIPP projects without regard to milestone payments against measured works.
Engr. Ayodele
For Ayodele as the GM Technical Services, he failed to make sure that the scoping of work on contracts was pragmatic and that costing was properly done.
He also aided to the massive financial trouncing which was experienced by the Federal Government on account of over-scoped contracts.
Mr. P.M. Chigbo
In his own case the Committee discovered that he was solely accountable for repetition of figures, which were afterward seen to be typographical errors, in the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN).
Mr. S.S. Hayatu
In his own case the Committee discovered that he was solely accountable for repetition of figures, which were afterward seen to be typographical errors, in the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN).
Just as individuals were also indicted, some companies were also indicted as many companies in this class comprise:
Rockson Engineering/Rockson International (Owned by Arumemi-Johnson -ARIK Airline boss)
The above company was indicted for lack of proficiency, and also lack of implementation capability. They were also charged to have a form of poor recital on the following power projects which include performance on Alaoji I, Omoku, Egbema and Gbarain-ubie power stations. They were not spared out in an alleged complicity in irrationally lofty contract sums claimed for projects.
Pivot Engineering
The above was also charged for its awfully meager show on the  Alaoji – Umuahia 132kV DC transmission line which was awarded to it since May 2001 and the non-completion of the larger part of the Owerri – Ahoada – Yenagoa 132kV DC transmission line awarded to it since 2000.
Marubeni (WA) and Marubeni International
Like the other companies they were also indicted for a very poor performance with regards to LOT 1 (Calabar), LOT 4 (Sapele) and LOT 6 (Eyaen.Ihovbor) power stations projects, and also alleged connivance in the contravention of financial procedures by obtaining and/or receiving payments in respect of construction activities not yet performed to the tune of 100% in respect of the same projects.
Lahmeyer International
The above organization shows its poor management failure in all with regards the NIPP project. Other areas they were involved include tender manipulation, negligence or complicity in over-scoping as well as overpricing of NIPP projects. They were also involved in abuse of due process, certification of invoices for payments for works not yet done by contractor. The same company was also blacklisted by World Bank.
ABB Powerlines
ABB in its own case was charged for its failure of contracts for the 2nd Benin – Onitsha 330kV transmission line project and Katampe – Kukwaba (National Stadium) 132kV transmission line project.
Energo Nigeria Ltd
In their own case the committee indicted them for what it termed alleged connivance in the over-scoping of NIPP Lot 3 Transmission project, and also the agreement in agreeing  to underserved payments totalling over N13 billion. The company was also indicted for its non-diligent action after receiving payments representing about 100% of what the actual project cost should be for the actual scope, 167 kilometres, instead of the contracted 240 kilometres.
Chrome Consortium Energy (Emeka Offor’s Company)
For gross incompetence, non-diligent contracts, prosecution and non-performance on all projects awarded to it since 2001, especially Gombe –Yola-Jalingo 330kV SC transmission line awarded to it since May 2001. The company was indicted by the probe panel.
IOEC/Kaztec Consortium
For complicity in abuse of due process and procurement of contract award for NIPP Gas EPC Lot. The company was indicted by the probe panel.
Cartlark International
For complicity in the over-scoping of NIPP Lot 4 Transmission project, and acquiescence in accepting payments totalling over N4 billion, the company was indicted by the probe panel.
KEC/News Engineering
For non-performance and lack of diligent prosecution of contract for Gombe – Damaturu –Maiduguri 330kV transmission Line project, the company was indicted by the probe panel.
Hoquado Nigeria Ltd
The above company was to receive payments in glut of $ 10 million from March 2006 and decline to bear out its contract on the pretext that the community landlord claimed compensation of N 18 million when interest it earned on the $ 10 million it received would be about $ 2 million (N240 million). The report on the company also showed lack of assiduousness in prosecuting its contracts and while it was quite enjoying the so called excuse to amass more money and receive interest on dollar payments, it pays no heed to perform the contract thereby leading to worsening of the power problems in Nigeria.
Santon Energy
For failure to execute contract for Umuahia – Mbalano 132kV Trx Line the company was indicted by the probe panel.
Union Allied Engineering
For failure to execute three substation contracts awarded to it since 2001, the company was indicted by the probe panel. The relationship between this company and Engr. (Dr.) E.C. Ifesie was also said to be looked into by EFCC and ICPC.
Atlantic Engineering
For failure to execute contract for Mbalano – Okigwe 132kV transmission line awarded to it since 2001, the company was indicted by the probe panel.
Harlesden Engineering (Owned by Senator Ikechukwu Obiora)
For failure to execute contract the company was indicted by the probe panel.
In all these the individuals were indicted and the cases recommended to the EFCC and ICPC to carry on more investigation and also many of the individuals were said not to hold public office again, while the companies were also recommended to EFCC and ICPC to investigate also while some were blacklisted.  However, the order of the day is these individuals are working freely while these companies are still doing state and federal jobs.

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2 Comments on “Nigeria’s lingering Energy Crises: ‘Conspiracy of the Untouchables’”

  1. Revd Debo Ijagbuji
    April 17, 2012 at 8:23 am #

    Nigeria is a failed state and it has slipped beyond redemption.There should not be untouchables in decent societies but what we endure by way of societal ills iNn the coujntry would for ever impact negatively on our economy as well as other spheres of our national development.I am sure our chldren would react shortly to our complacency as well as the winner takes all attitudes of our maximum rulers.

  2. Diso
    April 25, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

    we the masses are the problem in 9ja since we can not fight for our right just because of sentiment or religious deferences,

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