Minister of Power, Engr. Mamman Saleh, stunned members of the Senate Committee on Power, when he said that the much trumpeted $5.8billion Mambilla Hydropower Project is yet to get a date of take off as no Kobo was budgeted for it in the 2021 budget by the federal government.
This was even as the Managing Director of Transmission Company of Nigeria,TCN, Engr. Sule Ahmed Abdulaziz also revealed that out of N165billion required for capital project in 2020, a paltry sum of N4billlion envelope was given, out of which only N3billion was cash backed.
These revalations, by the minister and the managing director, during 2021 budget defence of the power sector, however, made the committee to forclose hope of stable power supply in the country, going by gross underfunding of the sector and apparent unseriousness being displayed by the federal government in getting it fixed.
Taking up the minister on the Mambilla project, the chairman of the Committee, Senator Gabriel Suswam (PDP Benue North East) and other members like Senators Shaibu Lau (PDP Taraba North), Danjuma Goje (APC Gombe Central), James Manager (PDP Delta South) etc, wondered why no dime was allocated for the project in the 2021 budget.
Specifically, Senator Lau who hails from Taraba State told the committee members that despite promises upon promises made on the project by the federal government on yearly basis, no access road to the project site, no any indication of site clearance talkless of possible grand breaking.
“Nothing in the proposed 2021 budget that concerns Mambilla, showing that there is no commitment from government.
“The truth about the project going by glaring realities on ground over the last ten years, is that Mambilla will not see the light of the day,” he said.
The minister in his response, admitted that the project is yet to take off but that he was still trying to convince Mr. President on it.
Accordimg to him, special fund of $200million targeted for the project is still in the office of the Chief of Staff while the N850million expected from Nigeria as 15 per cent of the contract sum is yet to be paid.
The 85 per cent balance of the contract sum, he added, is to be financed by the Chinese NEXIM Bank.
The yet to commence project, he explained further is a 3.05megawatts hydro electric facility being developed on the Dongo River in Taraba State, which after completion will be the largest power generating installation in the country.
Irked by his submission, the chairman of the committee and other members said solution must be found to the Mambilla issue as part of solutions to epileptic power supply in the country.
Senator Manager in particular said, going by the submission of the Minister , no seriousness from government on the project which according to him, is getting Nigerians frustrated.
In his own comment, Senator Goje, said “the hope of getting stable power supply in Nigeria in the nearest future is dashed going by gross underfunding of the sector and lack of required seriousness on those managing the sector to get it fixed up.”
However the TCN Managing Director in his submissions before the committee said the transmission capacity of the country has increased from 5,000 megawatts to 8,000 megawatts.
“Inadequate funding by government on yearly basis, remains the major problem of the TCN and by extension, the power sector.
“In 2020 fiscal year, our projected money for capital expenditure was N165billion but only given N4billion budgetary envelope out of which N3billion was cash backed,” he said.
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