The board of Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET) Plc is expected to meet this Friday (tomorrow) to discuss the company’s N7.68 billion budgetary allocations in the 2021 budget, which an insider described as “strange.”
According to an insider, the emergency board meeting was called as a result of a media report alleging that ‘’the company was being used as a conduit to siphon public funds,” especially after it was discovered that NBET Plc was allocated N7.68 billion in the 2021 budget – for projects outside its mandates.
It was alleged that its 2021 budget included N630 million for the purchase of transformers; a budget for “electrifying communities across the country” — a project that should have been handled by the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), which is in charge of electrifying rural and unserved communities.
The NBET allegedly proposed in the same budget to provide 500KVA transformers for Uwan and selected communities in various states for N150 million; supply and installation of transformers in selected areas of Gombe North senatorial district for N100 million; and N50 million for provision of 500KVA/11 and 300KVA/11 at various locations in Dawakintofa/Rimin Gado/Tofa, Kano.
Other items allegedly approved for execution in the 2021 budget by NBET include electrification of Nasarawa Toto in the North Central zone for N30 million and electrification of Gudus, Nyalun, Kunkyam, Yuli, and other selected communities in Plateau State for N300 million.
Despite the fact that these projects fell outside the purview of NBET, the company was said to have asked the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) to approve the contract awards.
However, one of the board members told THISDAY that some of them learned about the issues from an online newspaper report and wondered how those items got into the budget of a company whose sole mission is to buy power from generating companies (GenCos) and sell it to distribution companies (DisCos).
I’m not sure why people fail to learn from history. Recently, the Independent Corrupt Practices & Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), an anti-corruption agency, went after MDAs that allocated funds for purposes outside of their mandates.
“It was widely publicized. I would have thought that the fear of the ICPC would have served as a deterrent to the NBET’s top management staff not to consider this alleged enticement from the National Assembly,” the source said.
The board member questioned how NBET intended to ‘’scoop out the monies” from the company and begin electrifying communities and purchasing transformers while operating outside of its mandate.
“This kind of scandal has never occurred before. Some members of the National Assembly will always go after MDA chief executives they believe are not doing their jobs properly”
And I’m not sure how this could have happened given that the Hon Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning is the Chairman of the Board of NBET; the Director-General (DG), Budget, is a board member; and the Director-General, Debt Management Office is also on the Board of NBET. As Vice Chairman of NBET, we also have the Director-General of the Bureau of Public Procurement.
“I also wonder how NBET will electrify communities across the country if that is not part of its mandate.” Maybe there’s something I don’t know about. So I’m not sure if the NBET’s role has evolved to the point where it now performs some aspects of the REA’s role.”
Given that NBET’s license is up for renewal, the board member suggested that NERC modify NBET’s license to allow it to begin purchasing and distributing transformers as well as electrifying communities.