Nigeria’s Minister of Power, Professor Bart Nnaji suddenly resigned from office yesterday (Tuesday 28th August, 2012) . His resignation which came as a surprise to many was amidst controversies and allegations of conflict of interest in the privatization process of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria. The privatization of 17 electricity firms is scheduled to be concluded in two months’ time. Also, the former Minister was said to be at loggerheads with some PHCN workers on various issues.
Punch newspapers reported in a statement by Dr. Reuben Abati – the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity that the President had accepted his resignation and thanked him for his services to the nation. This is also following Nnaji’s admission that companies linked to him had submitted bids for one of the successor companies created from the unbundling of the PHCN. Following his resignation, there have been several reports in the media alleging that he was sacked and did not resign voluntarily.
However, speaking to ThisDay yesterday night on his decision to leave the cabinet, Nnaji said he opted to resign in order to save the privatization and reform programme from those who might want to use ulterior motives to bring down the programme. Nnaji said he had met with President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday afternoon, during which the President informed him that he was using his company as a proxy to buy shares on behalf of the president in Afam power station through the privatisation process.
On hearing this, he informed the president that rather than drag him (Jonathan) and the entire process through the mud, he would prefer to resign but reminded the president that he had brought it to his attention two weeks ago that a company he owned was part of a bidding consortium that had submitted bids for Enugu Distribution Company.
Nnaji also told Thisday that there have been all sorts of efforts to bring him down since his appointment as Special Adviser to the President on Power and later power minister, but decided on Tuesday that it was best to leave rather that allow fourth columnists to mar the entire process. “It is a huge conspiracy to scuttle the programme, but rather than drag the president and the programme down, I decided to tender my resignation,” he said.