Underfunding dashes hope for stable power supply in Nigeria ―Senate

•As minister opens up on poor funding of $5.8billion Mambilla Power Project

The Senate on Monday said Nigerians hope for improved power supply is unrealistic due to poor funding by the Federal Government.

The view of the Senate is sequel to the confession by the Minister of Power, Mamman Saleh, who said the $5.8million Mambilla project is yet to take off.

Saleh had appeared before the Senate Committee on Power to defend the 2021 budget when he made the revelation.

The committee was also jolted by the submission of the Managing Director of Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Sule Ahmed Abdulaziz that out of N165billion required for capital project in 2020, N4billlion envelope was given out of which only N3billion was cash backed.

The submissions of both public officials saddled with the responsibility of managing the nation’s power sector gave an insight on the poor funding that would leave the power sector in continual need of appropriate funding.

Taking up the minister on the Mambilla Power 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), 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 there was no access road to the project site, nor any indication of site clearance or possible ground-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 10 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.

According to him, a 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  Mambilla project he explained further is a 3,050MW hydroelectric power project 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 a solution must be found to the Mambilla issue as part of solutions to the epileptic power supply in the country.

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

Danjuma Goje in his own comments 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 MD in his submission before the committee said the transmission capacity of the country has increased from 5,000megawatts to 8,000megawatts.

“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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