Minister says $5.8bn Mambilla power project idle, senators kick

Minister says $5.8bn Mambilla power project idle, senators kick
Sale Mamman, Minister of Power

Members of the Senate Committee on Power expressed anger on Monday when the Minister of Power, Mamman Saleh, said the $5.8bn Mambilla Power Project had yet to take off.

The committee was also expressed surprise over the submission of the Managing Director of Transmission Company of Nigeria, Sule Abdulaziz, on the poor funding of the power sector.

Abdulaziz had said out of N165bn required for capital project in 2020, only N4bn envelope had been released, while N3bn had been cash backed.

The revelations were made during the budget defence session which the minister and the TCN MD had with the Senate Committee on Power.

The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Gabriel Suswam, and other members like Senators Shaibu Lau, Danjuma Goje, James Manager wondered why no fund was allocated for the project in the 2021 budget.

Specifically, Lau who hails from Taraba State told the committee members that despite promises made on the project by the Federal Government on yearly basis, there was no access road to the project site.

He said even the road to the project site had not been cleared.

He said, “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 10 years is that Mambilla will not see the light of the day,” he said.

The minister, in his response, admitted that the project had yet to take off but added that he was still trying to convince the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on it.

He said a special fund of $200m targeted for the project was still in the office of the Chief of Staff while the N850m expected from Nigeria as 15 per cent of the contract sum had yet to be paid.

He said the 85 per cent balance of the contract sum was to be financed by the Chinese NEXIM Bank.

The project is a 3,050 hydroelectric power project. After completion, it will be the largest power generating installation in the country.

Suswan and other members said solution must be found to the Mambilla issue as part of the solutions to epileptic power supply in the country.

Manager said going by the submission of the minister, there was no seriousness from the government on the project, which according to him, was getting Nigerians frustrated.

The TCN MD in his submissions before the committee said the transmission capacity of the country had increased from 5,000megawatts to 8,000megawatts.

He said, “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 N165bn but only given N4bn budgetary envelope out of which N3bn was cash backed,” he said.

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