FORMER Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) Sam Amadi said President Muhammadu Buhari did not have the constitutional powers to sack the management of the privately-owned Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC).
Amadi stated this in reaction to Buhari’s decision to remove AEDC’s management on Tuesday.
“The president has no such powers,” said Amadi.
He explained that the Federal Government could only push for changes through the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) since it had only a minority (40 per cent) stake in the business.
He noted that the management could not be removed when the president so desired.
Another way the government could protect public interest was through regulation. Any other thing to the contrary, Amadi said, would put the government in bad light and weaken investors’ confidence.
“Even if the Federal Government has a 40 per cent minority share in the assets, those shares are held for it by the Bureau of Public Enterprises that it has a position on the (firm’s) board. So the best we can do is to use the board membership to push policies to change.
“And the fact that the Federal Government has the power of sovereign doesn’t change the fact that the only way you can protect public interest in the sector is through the regulation. Any other action will appear like nationalising back those assets.”
Buhari had, in a statement on Tuesday, approved the sack of AEDC’s management following an industrial faceoff that grounded electricity supply to its franchise areas, including the Federal Capital Territory, by the company’s workers.
The workers accused the company of failing to remit their pension contributions and other entitlements for nearly two years.
Ofem Uket, media aide to the Minister of State for Power Jeddy Agba, who issued the statement, said the president had also approved a new interim governing board to oversee the company’s day-to-day operations.
Uket said that the decision to fire the management was taken by the company’s shareholders and approved by the government as the regulator.
In a similar statement on Wednesday, the minister said the United Bank Africa (UBA), lenders to the majority shareholder at AEDC, had taken over the electricity firm after a feud over its ownership had deteriorated.
“The situation has currently deteriorated due to lack of access to intervention lending to a point whereby legitimate entitlements of the staff are being owed thus leading to service disruptions on 6th December 2021 within its franchise area.
“The Federal Ministry of Power has since taken the initiative to engage organised labour, and electricity service has since been restored in the FCT and the states served by AEDC.”
“The changes in shareholding in AEDC and the appointment of an interim management for AEDC by the shareholders has been endorsed by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (the industry regulator) and the Bureau of Public Enterprises (“BPE” as co-shareholders in AEDC),” the statement also signed by Uket had said.