TCN MD sack threatens power sector reform, $1.66bn projects – group warns

By Obas Esiedesa

The Nigerian Power Consumers Forum (NPCF) has warned that the recent sacking of the Managing Director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Mr Usman Gur Mohammed may truncate power sector reforms and jeopardize the $1.661 billion multilateral agencies’ funded projects TCN.

Mr. Mohammed was last week controversially dismissed from office by the Minister of Power, Sale Mamman.

Mohammed was half way through his four-term as substantive CEO of the Federal Government owned transmission company.

The NPCF in a statement on Thursday signed by its General Secretary, Comrade Michael A. Okoh said the arbitrary action of the Minister defeats the objectives of due process in the federal government’s establishments and the overall objectives of power sector reform being championed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The group pointed at similar action taken by
the Minister in December last year with the summary removal of the heads of the
Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET) and Rural Electrification Agency
(REA) which were subsequently reversed days after.

The group held: “He has turned a deaf ear and
went on to repeat such costly mistakes again at TCN against a circular issued
by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha on
applying due process to sanction heads of agencies. In the case of
Mohammed, it was clear that he had done no wrong for the minister to remove him.”

The Forum therefore urged President Buhari “to
immediately direct a reversal of the action to save the power sector from the
budding dictatorship”.

The group observed that TCN was already “a
crumbling block in 2016 despite federal government’s $32 million dollars
Manitoba Hydro International Nigeria Limited (MHINL) management contract, which
was never the real MHI of Canada, to reform TCN.

“With UG Mohammed at the top of affairs, the
public utility firm has been reformed within three years and had attracted $1.66bn
investments to expand TCN capacity to 20,000 megawatts (MW) by 2023 through the
Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Programme (TREP)” it added.

The group noted that MHINL managed TCN from
August 2012 to August 2016 but “failed to create any significant impact as the
company was fraught with obsolete operations leading to it being the weakest
link in the Nigerian electricity supply value chain.

“The Federal Government found a reformist in
Usman Gur Mohammed, brought him from the African Development Bank (AfDB), on a
special request to serve Nigeria under the President Muhammadu Buhari’s

“AfDB released him on secondment as CEO to
reorganize TCN which was badly mismanaged under the management contract, and he
started from December 21, 2016.

“Mohammed had worked in the defunct NEPA/PHCN
for 17 years and was involved in the Nigeria power sector reform which ended
with the privatization of the 11 Distribution Companies (DisCos) and six
Generation Companies (GenCos). So he has vast experience about managing TCN”.

NPCF defended Mohammed on the accusation that
he was frustrating the Siemens Presidential Power Initiative (PPI).

“We wish to state that the claim is not correct as the Minister was also misled to say TCN was causing the loss of one billion naira daily in the power sector. N1 billion is such a huge money that if the TCN infrastructure was truly responsible for this, the power sector would have collapsed since.”

On the contrary, the Forum said Mohammed
repositioned TCN and it is evident as multilateral donors flood to invest with
cheaper loans in TCN. Under the four years management contract of MHINL, there
was no single audit of TCN. The company could not raise a single dollar of
investment during the period.

It stated that a $300 million World Bank
project inherited by MHINL was severely mismanaged (out of seven major
contracts for transmission rehabilitation and expansion only two were
successfully executed after 10 years of implementation).

MHINL also bloated the management level staff
of TCN from the then 10 General Managers and 11 Asst. General Managers to 46
General Managers and 134 Asst. General Managers in 2017, when I took over as

But from 2017 when Mohammed assumed office at
TCN, NPCF said the firm which was the weakest link in the Nigeria power sector
value chain was gradually transformed; raising transmission wheeling capacity
from 5,000MW to 8,100MW, and recovering nearly 800 stranded containers to
deliver scores of power transmission projects.

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