NBET Politics : Flagrant violation of EPSR Act 2005

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By Akinloye Oyeniyi
It is no more news to all concerned stakeholders in critical sectors of Nigrian economy, that an unwarranted and unprovoked illegality of transferring Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading PLC (NBET) from the Ministry of Power to Ministry of Finance, Budget and Planning, without amendment to the Act from which its establishment was rooted. Likewise, it is also in the open that the Nigerian National Assembly and relevant stakeholders are working strenuously to undo the illegality.
The unlawful transfer of Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading PLC (NBET) from the Ministry of Power to Ministry of Finance, Budget and Planning, is a clear breach of Electric Power Sector Reform Act 2005 and other allied subsidiary legislations.
The power sector is a critical sector in any economy, and the Ministry of Power of Nigeria is the ministry charged with responsibility of providing power across the country and in discharging this mandate, it is guided by the provisions of the laws provided under National Electric Power Policy (NEPP) of 2001, the Electric Power Sector Reform (EPSR) Act of 2005, Rural Electrification Implementation Strategy Plan 2016 and the Roadmap for Power Sector Reform of August 2010; all covering from power generation to power supply.
Under the Ministry of Power, the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET) is the manager and administrator of the electricity pool (‘The Pool’) in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) and that it was incorporated on the 29th day of July 2010 as a roadmap for power sector reform towards the full implementation of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (EPSRA) 2005 and the reform is ongoing and delivering on all angles but I am afraid that mileage gained so far could get disrupted with the latest illegal transfer of NBET.
Section 11 of Marketing Regulation is very clear and it says, “the sale of electricity is prohibited unless with the express permission of the Minister of Power, and under the conditions stipulated by him. Nothing in these Regulations shall authorize any licensee to supply, sell, exchange, or barter a supply of electrical energy however derived with any other person.” Why then would those behind this illegality plainly go against such provisions is what is not clear to Nigerians till now.
These are Rules made pursuant to Section 26 of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act Act, which provides that it is the Minister of Power that shall recommend the market rules to be developed by the System Operator for, amongst other things, the establishment and governance of markets related to electricity and ancillary services.
to the President for approval. Now why the governance of the electricity markets was illegally moved to another ministry not mentioned in the Act to the point that NBET 2021 budget for the first time is unlawfully coming under the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning is what the federal government is yet to explain to Nigerians.
Section 26(3) of the Act provides that the market rules in respect of markets for electricity and ancillary services include governing the making and publication of market rules, settlement of payments among different participants, authorizing and governing the making of orders by the Market Operator, including orders:
(i)     Imposing financial penalties on Participants;
(ii)    Authorizing a person to participate in the markets; or
(iii)   Terminating, suspending or restricting a persons’ right to participate in the markets; and
(iv) Concerning the administration and enforcement of the market rules, including provisions for amending the market rules, dispute resolution and penalties; and the Minister referred to in this Act is the Minister of Power and Steel or Mine or as the President may deem to designate. How then do some people want to make it Minister of Finance by their own illegal act?
Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET) and other parastatals under the Ministry of Power since their inception have been having their budgets prepared by the Ministry of Power and passed under items of the same ministry, but now that is not so.
As Legislative Expert and Public Affairs Commentator, I make bold to say that the submission of NBET 2021 budget under the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning is a breach of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act 2005 and clear violation of the Senate Orders and House of Representatives Rules.
The unlawful nature of the action was why the House of Representatives Committee directed immediate reversal of the transfer but I can tell that that directive is yet to be complied with by the Ministry of Finance, Budget and Planning.
So, like many other stakeholders, I am calling on the National Assembly to either step down NBET Budget until its directive is complied with or go ahead to scrutinize and pass the same under the Ministry of Power.
As a stakeholder in the legislative arena, I also urge the National Assembly to critically probe this unlawful transfer and executive arm’s disdain for the legislative arm, to deter future occurrences.
I am certain of the believe that the National Assembly will no longer condone clear breached of the laws of the land, its own Acts and recurrent disobedience by public officers or agencies of its directives.
*Akinloye Oyeniyi, Legislative Expert and Public Affairs Commentator. Abuja.*
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