NERC Commissioner Refutes Allegations Of Insubordination | Independent Newspapers Limited
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NERC Commissioner Refutes Allegations Of Insubordination

Posted: Jun 26, 2015 at 12:03 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

•  Accuses Prominent Board Member Of Bringing Disrespect To Commission

By Phillip Oladunjoye,  Lagos


Allegations and counter allegations have continued within the management of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) over the resignation of one of its Commissioner.

The Commissioner in charge of Market Competition and Rates (MCR), Mr. Eyo Ekpo, who resigned his appointment through a letter dated June 1, 2015 addressed to the president, Muhammadu Buhari and copied the management of the commission, said he could not bear the attack on his person by a prominent member of the commission’s board, who he said had gone to the press to accuse him falsely.

Ekpo, who responded through an e-mail to the chairman of the commission and copied the other five commissioners and the Commission’s Secretary, among others, said he decided to respond based on the impact the three stories published on June 9, and June 16, by three national dailies, attacking his person directly and indirectly against various staff of the commission.

“I read a story of Tuesday, 9th June 2015, captioned “NERC Commissioner Ekpo resigns, says Commission has failed”. I decided to ignore it but after stories with a similar slant were carried on Tuesday, 16th June 2015, and upon further reflection about the implications of staying silent in the face of your attack against me directly, and indirectly against various staff of the Commission, it is clear to me that the record has to be set straight,” he said.

He said the first was his alleged frustration by his removal from MCR (with the innuendo that he was removed from MCR) after some irregularities were found in the computation of MYTO 2 and the N213bn CBN loan.

Ekpo said all the allegations levied against him were false, prompting his response.

“I state very clearly and categorically that ALL the “facts” you peddled to these newspapers are ENTIRELY FALSE. I will comprehensively establish the unmitigated falsehood in all the news stories that you unwisely procured. I am responding to defend my hard-earned respect, good reputation and high esteem in which most who know me in the energy industry hold me. More importantly, however, in your bid to tarnish me you also attacked some of the best, most productive and most hardworking staff of NERC who are voiceless and have no defence against an unwarranted and ill-advised but ferocious assault on their professional competence and integrity by their Chairman who should defend rather than attack them,” he said.

Ekpo said he never wrote that the commission had failed but that a top board member had set the path of failure for the commissioners.

“I never said or wrote that the Commission has failed. Rather, while you have set the tenure of the present 7 Commissioners on the path to failure, that judgment cannot be entered until your tenure is over. Time has almost run out but you can still take decisions to reverse the trend,” he said, explaining that some of the actions and omissions by the Commission that have created avoidable problems include the decision to reduce tariffs to please some set people.

“You contrived to reduce tariffs, ostensibly to protect consumers from bearing losses they should not bear, but really to please the SouthEast commercial, industrial and political interests that came to you to accuse the Commission of increasing tariffs in the SouthEast by 49%, whereas (as they alleged) tariffs in the SouthWest were increased by only 26%. This is a matter of record. It is unfortunate that rather than summarily dismiss a purely political statement calculated to inflame discontent and regional sentiments, you proceeded to act on it.

“You abandoned the most elementary principles of regulatory ethics and embarked on the unprecedented, blatant and desperate political campaigning via live TV debates and other video recordings for the incumbent Presidential candidate in the last elections. This political gamble failed woefully, thus jeopardising your bid to ensure your return to office for a 2nd term. Your thoughtless actions have exposed the Commission, its Commissioners and staff to negative political sentiment and reduced the value of the NERC brand,” he added.

He also noted that the two actions, with various omissions inherent in them, led directly to the situation that he narrated in his letter – loss of trust and confidence in the Commission by its key stakeholders, – Government, consumers, licensees, the Commission staff.

“I regret to make it clear that I left NERC because I lost all respect for you and your leadership; and because my fellow Commissioners chose to keep quiet even when you had sacrificed the Commission’s corporate persona and integrity on the altar of your personal political expediency and inordinate ambition. It is irrelevant to me, in these circumstances, that we had only 6 or 7 months to go in office,” he stated.

Ekpo also refuted the allegation that he was frustrated at his posting, saying that he willingly gave up the leadership of MCR after the board took a decision to reduce tariffs.

“There would have been no reshuffle if I had chosen to stay in MCR. I insisted on giving up leadership of MCR after you and all 5 other Commissioners took that fateful decision to reduce tariffs in March 2015.

“Let me make clear: the decision was a purely political decision dressed up in technical language of “removing collection loss from consumers” as if this was an eye-opening discovery that had just been made. You waited for me to go away on leave after 7 gruelling months of very fractious engagement with Discos, Gencos, TCN, gas suppliers, bankers both in and outside CBN, consultants and advisers, the team that worked on completing the CBN-NEMSF loan facility; and then within that 6-week period, NERC moved at a speed it has never achieved before or since, created a “committee”, delivered a committee report, held a “public hearing”, considered the “outcome” of that public hearing and went ahead to issue an order reducing electricity tariffs across the board just four days before presidential elections. “By the time I came back to work on 23rd March, the deed was done,” he explained.