President Muhammadu Buhari did not order the removal of the management of the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC), the presidency has said, contradicting an earlier announcement by the Ministry of Power.
The power minister, Abubakar Aliyu, on Tuesday announced the president had authorised the replacement of the management of the troubled firm, but critics accused the government of interfering in a private company, a move capable of turning potential investors away.
A former head of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, Sam Amadi, told PREMIUM TIMES the president lacked such powers.
Mr Aliyu on Wednesday claimed the announcement was reported out of context, and said the decision was taken instead by UBA, which has took over the electricity firm following AEDC’s loan repayment default.
The AEDC is one of 11 electricity distribution companies that emerged from the 2013 privatisation of the sector. The government holds 40 per cent in the AEDC while the lead investor, KANN Utility, holds 60 per cent.
Since coming on stream, the AEDC, like most other distribution companies, has struggled to improve power supply to its consumers and has failed to break even.
Workers commenced an industrial action on Monday over non-remittance of employees’ benefits. They shut down electricity facilities, throwing the federal capital, Abuja, Kogi, Nasarawa, Niger, and parts of Kaduna into darkness.
Mr Buhari’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu, said the president was not involved in the removal of the company’s leadership.
“This cannot be true. Since the privatisation of the Power Sector in 2013, the management of the successor companies has reverted to the new owners. It is, therefore, totally out of place and inconceivable that the President would be linked to the management of a private organisation, let alone sacking it,” he said in a statement Wednesday.
“It is gladdening to note that the minister quoted in the statement has distanced himself from it.
The Presidency, therefore, wishes to state expressly and reassure investors in the economy that President Buhari did not order the sack of the management of AEDC, nor does he intend to interfere in the running of the affairs of private business entities”.
“The Presidency, however, welcomes ongoing discussions with relevant stakeholders to resolve the issues surrounding the recent developments in the company.”
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