Home » Nigerian billionaire Orji Uzor Kalu to head Senate Committee on Privatization

Nigerian billionaire Orji Uzor Kalu to head Senate Committee on Privatization

by Feyisayo Ajayi

Nigerian billionaire and Senator Orji Uzor Kalu has been appointed as the chairman of the Senate Committee on Privatization, according to an announcement by Senate President Godswill Akpabio last Monday. The Senate president unveiled the composition and leadership of the Senate’s standing committees, which will oversee its regulatory functions.

In his new role, Kalu, a two-time former governor of Abia State in Nigeria’s southeastern region, is tasked with guiding oversight efforts pertaining to the operations of more than 70 entities that have already been privatized or are scheduled for privatization in the country.

The billionaire magnate will also be responsible for overseeing the functions of the Bureau of Public Enterprises, established under the provisions of the Public Enterprises (Privatisation and Commercialisation) Act of 1999. He will additionally monitor the activities of federally owned companies that the Bureau of Public Enterprises has privatized since the commencement of the sales to private entities.

Kalu is expected to lead his committee members in engaging with key stakeholders and players in the private sector to ensure the fulfillment of the objectives outlined in the Public Enterprises (Privatization and Commercialization) Act of 1999. As a two-time senator, he is entrusted with conducting a comprehensive review of privatized entities, aiming to achieve goals such as combating corruption, rectifying inefficiencies in state-owned enterprises, attracting foreign direct investment, and curbing rent-seeking practices.

Kalu’s responsibilities also include addressing challenges that have hindered the growth of acquired federal government enterprises.

Among the companies under Kalu’s committee purview are the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, which was unbundled in 2013 to facilitate the emergence of six generating companies (GENCOs), 11 distribution companies (DISCOs), and the Transmission Company of Nigeria. GENCOs and DISCOs operate as fully privatized entities.

The 11 DISCOs are as follows: Abuja Distribution Company, Benin Distribution Company, Eko Distribution Company, Enugu Distribution Company, Ibadan Distribution Company, Ikeja Distribution Company, Jos Distribution Company, Kano Distribution Company, Port Harcourt Distribution Company, Yola Distribution Company, and Kaduna Distribution Company. The GENCOs consist of Afam Power Plc, Ughelli Power Plc, Geregu Power Plc, Kainji Power Plc, Shiroro Hydro Power Plc, Sapele Power Plc, Egbin Power Plc, National Integrated Power Plants, and the Transmission Company of Nigeria.

At 63, Kalu is one of Nigeria’s wealthiest individuals. He founded Slok Holding, a West African conglomerate with investments in shipping, banking, oil trading, manufacturing, and media. His significant holding, Slok Shipping, possesses a fleet of platform supply vessels. Additional assets include West African commercial bank First International Banking Group and the Sun Heavens Hotels and Resort chain.

Kalu served as governor of Abia State from 1999 to 2007, becoming the youngest governor in Nigeria’s history. He was elected to the Senate in 2019 and secured reelection in March of this year.

Kalu’s business journey commenced at age 19, following his expulsion from a Nigerian university due to his leadership in a series of student protests. With a $35 loan from his mother, he entered the commodities trading realm, dealing in palm oil, rice, and sugar. He diversified into furniture manufacturing and transportation, amassing millionaire status by age 20. His breakthrough came in the early 1980s when the Nigerian military government awarded him lucrative contracts to import and supply arms and ammunition to Nigeria’s military and defense forces.

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