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Govs meet today on security challenges, others


ABUJA — GOVERNORS of the 36 states under the aegis, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, will today meet ahead of tomorrow’s National Economic Council, NEC, meeting.

Vanguard gathered that President Goodluck Jonathan will attend the NEC meeting where he is expected to brainstorm with the governors especially on the 2013 budget

NEC is always chaired by Vice President Namadi Sambo, but Jonathan, a source told Vanguard, may preside to push the governors to agree with the government on the controversial oil benchmark for next year.

The Federal Government had pegged it at $75 per barrel as benchmark for the 2013 budget, but the Senate raised it to a higher rate of $78 per barrel while the House of Representatives put it at $80 per barrel.

Also part of the agenda for today’s meeting is the security challenge in the country as well as deliberations on a final decision to withdraw or continue with the suit they instituted at the Supreme Court against the Federal Government on the excess crude controversy.

At the end of the meeting, the governors are expected to adopt a common position and then present it to NEC tomorrow.

A source also disclosed that governors of Edo, Delta, Ondo and Ekiti states will present before other governors the unresolved case of the Benin Distribution Company (Disco)to gather support from their colleagues ahead of tomorrow’s NEC meeting, which will ratify the privatisation of electricity distribution in the country.

The governors will also take a resolution on the excess crude issue which has for a long time now been generating heated debate between the governors and the Presidency. At the hearing of the suit instituted by the governors against the Federal Government at the Supreme Court, it was agreed that the matter should be settled out of court.

A governor who spoke under condition of anonymity said, “if we reach an amicable decision in our meeting, then the economic council would be briefed and the matter would be withdrawn from the Supreme Court”.

The issue of security will top the agenda because according to a source, the northern governors are complaining that the federal government was concentrating efforts in tackling the security challenges only within the Federal Capital Territory.

It will be recalled that Governors Adams Oshiomhole of Edo, Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti and Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo States had penultimate week protested the award of contract for the Benin Distribution company to Vigeo Power Consortium which edged out Southern Electricity Distribution Company (SEDC) they floated.

The four state governors are taking their case to the Governors’ Forum to solicit support of their colleagues before a final decision was taken at the NEC meeting

The National Economic Council (NEC) presided over by Vice President Namadi Sambo will take the final decision on the privatization of electricity generated by the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).

The Chairman of the National Council of Privatization, Atedo Peterside had however defended the decision of the Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE) for declaring Vigeo, the preferred bidder for the Benin Disco to Vigeo Holdings Ltd.

Vigeo Consortium comprises Vigeo Holdings Limited, Global Utilities Management Company Limited (GUMCO) and a private equity firm, African Finance Corporation. Its technical partners include Indian-based Tata Power Distribution Limited (TPDDL), the Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation Limited (CESC) and GUMCO.

Henry Umoru

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