May 30, 2024

40b metering contract: more Nigerians slam power minister for award of contract to greenhorn firm


Ilenre Irele

For Adebayo Adelabu, minister of power, these are indeed trying times to occupy the exalted office of a minister especially in a ministry already in the eyes of storm for not being able to give Nigerians adequate electricity supply many years after the unbundling of the power sector.
The minister ever since his appointment by President Bola Tinubu has always come under slammer.

If he’s not being villified for not adequately addressing the challenges in the sector , an attitude many of his detractors attributed to his gubernatorial ambition in Oyo State which has allegedly made him see his current position as a red herring, he will be kicked for gaffes, the latest being his comment on keeping the freezer on.

Speaking in an interview with Channels Television on Thursday, Adelabu said the comment was not intended to insult the sensibilities of Nigerians.

Last Thursday, the minister of power said Nigerians lacked the culture of power consumption management due to the affordability of electricity supply.

“A lot of people will come back from work, they want to have dinner, or they want to see their colleagues down the road, they switch on the AC for the room to be cooling before they come back,” Adelabu had said.

“Some people will be going to work in the morning, a freezer that you left on for days, they will still leave it on when all the items in the freezer are frozen and five, six, eight hours of their absence will not make it to defreeze, they will still leave it to be consuming power just because we are not paying enough.”

The comment did not go down well with many Nigerians who criticised the minister for his handling of the ministry of power.

Speaking on the comment, Adelabu said the statement was borne out of his passion for a change in the power sector.

He added that the remark was directed at customers in the Band A category, who are expected to enjoy 20 hours of electricity supply in a day.

“It was never intended to insult the sensibilities of Nigerians in any way. I never said people should switch off their freezers,” Adelabu said.

“It was actually innocent advice with regard to energy consumption management, which we believe will go a long way in reducing people’s energy bills.

“The example of the freezer, it might not have gone down well with the majority of Nigerians. I will say sorry about that. It was never my intention to insult anybody.

“It was out of my passion and eagerness to ensure that we make a change in the sector, which has suffered a lot of setbacks for some years.

“We said we need to cultivate the culture of energy consumption management. It was just a comical illustration.”

Earlier, his award of 40b contract to a virtually unknown entity has generated controversy with one Professor Adebanwo Adeyanju remarking that ” the earlier Tinubu looks for another ministry to put Adelabu the better. I can tell you the man is not suited for such a sensitive ministry as power which already is facing challenges.

Recall that the minister, had on March 17, 2024, disclosed the award of a N40 billion contract to a green horn company known as De Haryor Global Services Limited. Of the amount, N12.7 billion is for the metering of Army formations across the country.

“The mass metering in Army formations nationwide will enable us to know what is being consumed on a monthly basis to ensure appropriate billings and ease collections. The overall intention is to eliminate and make estimated billing a thing of the past,” he was quoted as saying in a statement signed by Bolaji Tunji, his special adviser on strategic communication and media relations.

Debola Agbabiaka of the Network for Responsibility in Governance told EnergyDay that ” the way Betta Edu was investigated by the EFCC is the same way the award of 40b contract to a virtually unknown company that does not even have presence among registered meter providers should be investigated. What antecedent does that company has? What experience to handle such a sensitive job?”

Adetayo Adegbemle, convener and executive director of PowerUp Nigeria, a consumer rights and policy advocacy organisation in the power sector, has repeatedly argued for a review of the award of the N40 billion metering contract to De Haryor Global Services Limited.

“De Haryor Global Services Limited is not a registered meter manufacturing/assemblers company, neither is it on the list of manufacturers/assemblers at the Ministry of Finance, and Ministry of Trade and Investment, and is not on the first schedule of NERC Approved MAPs.

“There’s no evidence of public tender/bid for this contract, neither is there any evidence of meeting the Procurement Act procedures. If anyone insists there’s a public tender, let them provide the names of other companies that bid for the installations. There’s no budgetary allocation for this project, neither in the Ministry of Power, nor the Ministry of Finance,” Adegbemle stated recently.

As of the time of this report,it could not be independently confirmed if De Haryor Global Services Limited, has handled any installation of this size .

According to the data from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) 99 companies were given permission to carry out metering operations in the country between 2021 and 2024.

In the list, 15 firms were manufacturers, 23 importers, three vendors, and 58 corporate installers of meters. De Haryor Global Services did not make the list.

Investigations have revealed that De Haryor Global Services was only registered on June 18, 2009, as a private unlimited company and it’s difficult to determine its current status.

According to its website, the firm specialises in sales of electrical meters, maintenance, installation of mechanical and electrical gadgets, and upgrading of old electrical services, “and is adept at any job, whether it is part of new construction, remodelling, or a repair job.”

Dr. Harry Ayantuga, who has considerable experience in rural electrification told this medium that ” Adelabu’s claim that the award preceded him in office is not tenable. What he ought to have done was to advise the government to review it, saying the contract followed due process is beside the point.”

” It’s clear to everyone that the company may not have much experience as claimed. It’s a greenhorn foreign firm, why giving it to De Haryor Global, when indigenous companies can handle it”, Ayantuga stated.

Recall that recently Adelabu flagged off mass metering projects in Army formations across the country.

According to a statement by Media Aide to the minister, Bolaji Tunji, the project aims to end estimated billing in the sector.

The government said N12.7 billion has been released for the project.

However, stakeholders in the sector had faulted the government’s decision to ignore local meter manufacturers for a foreign firm with a relatively unknown record in implementing such a project.

However, reacting to chain of criticism, Adelabu, through his aide, insisted that due process was followed in the contract award.

He said the contract was awarded under former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration but was not funded.

“The previous administration awarded the contract, but it was not funded then. There were three bidders for it, and the best bid was from De Haryor Global.

“Also, De Haryor was not an SPV; it is a company that has existed since 2009. So, due process was followed for this project. Also, the project value is N12.7 billion.

“Yes. We have about 40 billion for mass metering, but not all are going for the Army formations metering”, he said.
But Chika Anyanwu, a business man told Business Hallmark that ” what government ought to do in any case is to always consider local companies first in the award of contracts, there’s no argument that can justify giving that 40b contract to a foreign firm based in Nigeria when Nigerian companies are qualified. If you go to any other country, they always consider their own before foreigners, it’s only in Nigeria that the reverse is the case.

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