By Bassey Udo
With last week’s unveiling of the new board and interim management of Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), most members of the new board are loyalists of the Chairman of UBA Group, Tony Elumelu.
Also, Elumelu is the Chairman of Transcorp Group, operators of Transcorp Power Limited, which owns Ughelli and Afam power plants.
The Chairman of the new AEDC board is Victor Osadolor, a strong Elumelu ally and currently the Chairman of UBA Pensions, a subsidiary of UBA Group.
Apart from his current position in UBA, Osadolor is also a non-Executive Director of African Finance Corporation (AFC), and former Deputy Managing Director of UBA.
UBA is the bank behind the loan granted AEDC investors, which triggered the crisis that resulted in the current management takeover following alleged inability by the beneficiaries to service the repayment agreement.
Osadolor is described as “a seasoned finance and business turnaround expert, with over three decades of corporate experience.”
A Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Osadolor is also an honorary life member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).
Other members of the new board of power distribution company include Alex Okoh, who, prior to his appointment as BPE DG, worked as a senior manager of Transcorp Hotels.
He is currently a non-Executive Director of Transcorp Hotels,apart from being a member of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council.
Okoh has over three decades of corporate experience in general management, leadership, banking and organisational development.
During his career in the banking sector, Okoh performed a variety of leadership roles, including corporate banking, operations, treasury as well as initiating and designing transformative projects and processes.
Other members of the new AEDC board include Atiku Abubakar Tambuwal, Sam Adikamkwu, who is a legal practitioner and former Chief Legal Adviser at the UBA, and Muyiwa Akinyemi, seasoned accountant and a current Group Executive at the UBA.
The Interim Management is led by Bada Akinwumi, a one-time Managing Director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN),who will serve as the Interim Managing Director, AEDC.
Other members of the interim management include Sani Usman (Chief Business Officer); Babajide Ibironke (Chief Finance Officer); Donald Etim (Chief Marketing Officer), Femi Zacheus (Chief Technical Officer).
In his maiden address to the staff on Monday, Osadolor assured them that the new Board of Directors would be committed to the well-being of its employees.
He enjoined all workers and other parties to remain steadfast and support the interim management as they embark on the transformation of the business for the benefit of all.
The constitution of the interim management board for AEDC followed last Tuesday’s suspension of the incumbent management over the alleged inability to meet the terms of its agreements and obligations with its bankers.
Announcing the new interim board, the BPE said the regulator in the power sector, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) had approved the exercise.
Regardless, since the removal of the erstwhile management, speculations have been rife that some powerful persons were for some time working with NERC and BPE officials to create an environment that would justify a takeover of AEDC to consolidate their control of the power sector.
A popular view has been the sack of AEDC management may have been engineered by UBA, allegedly to make it difficult for the majority shareholder to meet its loan payment obligations, to create the atmosphere for the takeover of the company.
“UBA is owned by Tony Elumelu, who is also the Chairman of Transcorp Group, operators of Transcorp Power Limited, Elumelu has not hidden his interest to emerge as the major force controlling the country’s power industry value chain.
“As the Chairman of the company operating Ughelli and Afam, there is nothing stopping Elumelu from leveraging his connections with the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, using the Bankers’ Committee, to create the crisis that UBA exploited to take over AEDC, to add the distribution arm of the power industry to his expanding portfolio,” an operator alleged.
BPE has insisted nothing abnormal has happened, as it explained that the sack of the former management of AEDC was as a result of an ongoing dispute over unpaid loans.
The agency said the dispute among competing factions of AEDC’s majority shareholder/core investor, namely KANN Utility Company Limited (KANN), eventually spilled over to the management of the company, resulting in its inability to meet its service obligations.