$2.3bn Siemens contract in danger over local content disagreements

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From Isaac Anumihe, Abuja

Nigerians expecting improved electricity supply through the $2.3 billion Siemens project may have to wait a little longer as the Presidential Power Initiative (PPI)  appears headed for brickwall over lack of transparency and disagreement on the use of local content.

Daily Sun’s investigation,  revealed that a major part of the disagreement arose when some Nigerian officialsn,  linked to the contract, began demanding some amount of money which  was not agreeable to  the Siemens experts,  leading to the officials threatening to quit the project.

These  findings  were  corroborated by the president of Nigerian Institute of Power Engineers (NIPE), Mr Israel Abraham, who  lamented  that German Siemens officials had relegated and neglected their Nigerian in the project.

Part of the indigenous engineers’ grouse was that  the Siemens group  constituted nearly 100 per cent of the workforce, including the artisanal hands.

Speaking to Daily Sun,  Israel Abraham, said that the contract arranged and facilitated by the late Chief of Staff to the president, Abba Kyari, had left out the Nigerian experts.

“The contract  signed by the late Abba Kyari and  other players in the presidency did not involve  many Nigerians in the business. There was not much involvement of the Nigerian group.

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“Government is already involved and money has  already been signed out.

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“This is like a German-Nigerian partnership with the German pulling  almost 100 per cent of it. You are just like a monitoring team.

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So, we are asking the government to get us involved even if on a pro-bono basis. We can come with our men who know all these things and we can monitor the things from an independent perspective. Now everything is between Nigerian government and German government”, he observed.

But a grid developer, Mr Folusho Alabi, told Daily Sun that following the collapse of the  Siemens project and frequent downtime of the National grid, government was now trying to decentralise power so that every state would generate power and sell to the DisCos.

“There was a time they (Siemens) were supposed to come  to Nigeria to invest in the power infrastructure. That transaction collapsed. At this point, what is happening now is damage control. But government is trying to majorly decentralise power. If you notice now, there is an amendment of the power law that is allowing states to exclusively generate power for their state. It means that they (states) are going to take themselves off the national grid and generate power for their own state.

“Now,  every  state is empowered by law to generate power independently. Ondo State has its own policy on power. Niger State has its own policy on power and we’re directly interacting with them. So,  what the  Federal Government is doing now is to decentralise power or energy generation such that states can build their own local assets.

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