On Thursday, the Senate made a decision to suspend the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) from acquiring a $155 million loan from the World Bank for the large-scale production of local meters. The reason behind this suspension was the Senate’s concern that the loan agreement favored foreign manufacturers over competent and qualified local meter manufacturers in Nigeria.
The motion to suspend the loan application was initiated by Victor Umeh (LP, Anambra Central) during the Senate’s plenary session, presided over by Senate President Godswill Akpabio. Mr. Umeh presented the motion, stating that if the loan were to be obtained, it would result in the loss of jobs for local manufacturers in the country and reduce the revenue that could contribute to Nigeria’s economic development.
During the debate on the motion, a majority of the senators supported the suspension of the loan application. Consequently, the Senate President approved the suspension of the loan processing and urged the Transmission Company to explore alternative loan options with the African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIM) and the African Development Bank (AFDB) to facilitate mass metering production.
Furthermore, Mr. Akpabio approved an additional request to the motion made by Ifeanyi Ubah (YPP, Anambra South), encouraging the Transmission Company to seek intervention funds from the Central Bank of Nigeria for the implementation of the mass metering production.
In the background of the issue, Mr. Umeh explained that the meter production project was initially funded by the Central Bank of Nigeria in 2020. However, after eight months, the funding was withdrawn, negatively impacting the progress of the production. The TCN subsequently sought a $155 million loan from the World Bank to continue the metering production project, which has already received approval from the World Bank for national mass metering production.
Mr. Umeh, in his argument, noted that 70 percent of the content of the meter could be sourced locally by meter manufacturers in the country.
“Seventy percent content of the meter can be sourced locally. The electronic parts are also available. We cannot allow them to continue sabotaging the economy.
“We are not against the loan. We are talking about the application of the loan, it is to make our local manufacturers lose out, and the opportunity will go to foreign manufacturers. If we can produce 70 percent of what we use in Nigeria, we will be a giant among countries of the world,” he said.
According to Mr. Umeh, the local manufacturers would produce more effective meters compared to those manufactured by foreign companies.
“I took time to review the loan. If we don’t take time, this country will finally break. The bidding criteria do not accommodate local manufacturers but include foreign manufacturers.
“I have discovered that the meters Nigerians are producing are stronger than what they produce in foreign countries. The Nigeria meter manufacturing association can do better. We don’t produce anything in this country, we depend on importation, and if we continue, we will never balance,” he added.
“The TCN cannot go on with procurement of the loan. The money will be used to develop the country. We are ready for the trouble. Corruption has eaten this country because of personal interest. They are sabotaging the efforts of local manufacturers.”