The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has thrown its weight behind the Nigerian Senate in its bid to unravel the mystery surrounding the alleged N14.7bn proceeds of privatization of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) allegedly hidden in commercial banks by the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE).
In a release issued by CACOL and signed by Tola Oresanwo, the anti-corruption organization’s Director, Administration and Programmes on behalf of its Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he stated, “We received the news that the Senate Committee on Public Accounts has begun investigation of N14.7bn proceeds of privatization of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria allegedly hidden in commercial banks by the Bureau of Public Enterprise”.
It will be recalled that the committee acting on an audit query in the ‘Auditor-General for the Federation’s Annual Report on Non-Compliance/Internal Control Weaknesses Issues in Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria for the Year Ended 31st December, 2019.’
The Acting Auditor-General of the Federation, Adolphus Aghughu, had presented the report to the Clerk of the National Assembly, Ojo Amos, on September 15, 2021, while the Senate and House Committees on Public Accounts began investigation of the queries.
The defunct government-owned National Electric Power Authority was privatized and renamed PHCN, which was later unbundled to become the present generation and distribution companies.
The query stated that the funds were still in the banks as of December 31, 2016, whereas the privatization of the PHCN had been concluded since 2013.
The query read in part, “Audit verification and reconciliation revealed that the sum of N14,720,396,432.43, being proceeds from the privatization exercise of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria was reported in the bureau’s trial balance to be in commercial bank accounts as at 31st December 2016. Whereas, the privatization of the PHCN was concluded in 2013, the proceeds are yet to be remitted to the Central Bank of Nigeria Privatization Proceeds Accounts”.
The anti-corruption Czar opined that “It is very funny that the money generated as far back as 2013 when the Privatization of PHCN was concluded is still hidden in some accounts in commercial banks despite government directive that all money generated by Ministries and MDAs should be deposited in the Treasury Single Account. This is an affront to the laid down rules as this could lead to revenue leakages and open the door for grand corruption with the said amount of money”.
The CACOL Boss further enthused, “We want to commend the Senate Public Accounts Committee for questioning the award of these contracts. The 1999 constitution of Nigeria generally vests the legislature with the power to make laws, although this responsibility is not limited to making laws as a lot of additional responsibility including that of oversight has also been placed upon the legislature. Oversight functions serve a variety of purposes among which are to keep the executive establishment responsible and accountable, to promote rationality and efficiency in the formulation and administration of public policy, among others. We want to believe that if the current trend by the senate committee is intensified and sustained with the cooperation of the various anti-corruption agencies in the country, stemming the tide of corruption in the various agencies and parastatals of government will not be a herculean task”.