In what has been described as a show of ‘extreme bile’ towards the immediate past administration of Goodluck Jonathan and a recent attempt to disavow every good thing the administration did, President Muhammadu Buhari, barely five months in office then, ‘hurriedly’ reversed 29 key appointments made by President Jonathan into vacant positions in the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).
The appointments made by Jonathan in line with the Board of TCN December 2014, six months before the expiration of his administration, were in respect of vacant directorship positions in the company. The appointments were reversed on November 5, 2015 via a letter from the office of the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, which itself stated that the reversal was sequel to a stakeholders’ meeting held on October 12 last year “about the management of TCN and the role of Manitoba Hydro International Nigeria Ltd (MHINL).”
The letter, which was addressed to the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Power and titled ‘Management Contractor Role for Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN)’, read, in part:
“I am directed by His Excellency, the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, to write you following the meeting we held with the Ministry of Power, NERC, BPE and MHI about the management of TCN and the role of Manitoba Hydro International Nigeria Ltd on October 12, 2015.”
According to the letter, the resolutions from the meeting were, among others, that:
A) The appointment of 29 new executives at the level of director, executive director and managing director/CEO be reversed.
This, the letter said, was to allow the management contractor to regain control of TCN, warning that “future executive appointments must be processed with input from the management contractor and board of directors to ensure that successful applicants have the correct qualifications and experience to operate TCN.”
B) That Manitoba Hydro International Nigeria Ltd (MHINL) be allowed to discharge fully the general duties of the contractor as shown in the TCN management contract.
Power Ministry sources, however, faulted the directive from the Vice President for what they described as “its being economical with the truth.”
“On the surface, the directive seems in order, even well-meaning and patriotic, but how could they be writing as if there was still a subsisting contract between Manitoba and TCN, when the management contract had expired since July last year,” an informed ministry source quipped.
“So, going by the terms of that contract, that directive was null and void ab initio because the government was investing in the management contractor the power, authority and privilege it no longer enjoyed since its contract with the government had expired way back in July last year.”
But, power sector confirm that the Manitoba contract was renewed by “this present administration against the decision of the last government. But, now that it is about to expire again, there is rising opposition to the renewal.”
In fact, apart from the last executive branch, the National Assembly, specifically the House of Representatives, advised the Buhari Administration against renewing it. Nevertheless, the government went ahead and renewed the contract, even without the knowledge of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Power, Mr. Godknows Igali, under whose purview the Manitoba contract falls. This has fueled speculations that the renewal did not go through the due process.
What seems to rankle most in the whole Manitoba saga is that even though the group is a management contractor whose functions and operations were supposed to have been understudied by Nigerians, none of that happened or is likely to happen.
In fact, power industry sources have described “hurried reversal” of the appointments made by Jonathan by Buhari as “the government shooting itself in the foot because those appointments were designed, in the first place, to create a pool of local experts who would understood and eventually take over from, Manitoba after the expiration of its management contract.”
There are speculations that part of the reason for the “hasty” reversal of “those 29 critical appointments made by Jonathan stems from a very complex international business politics by very influential Nigerians preparing Manitoba to package TCN for them to buy.”
Power, Works and Housing Minister’s spokesman Mr. Akeem Bello could not be reached for comments. But, a very reliable power sector source told The AUTHORITY that while there may be subterranean attempts by some influential political and business moguls to buy TCN, “I don’t think it (the sale) will happen,” as the government, the source said, “is not tinkering with the idea at the moment.”