The Senate Committee on Power has faulted what it said was about 20 proposed power projects in Lau Local Government Area of Taraba State.
Lau is the local government of the current minister of power, Mamman Saleh.
The panel raised the concerns on Wednesday during the budget defense of the Rural Electrification Agency.
In the agency’s 2021 proposed budget, the panel said it identified 20 rural electrification projects between N20 million to N52 million. It also pointed that only one of the projects for 2021 in the entire South-South geopolitical zone was proposed to be cited in Delta State, Punch Newspaper reports.
Yusuf Yusuf, a member of the panel, was the first to notice the discrepancies in the agency’s proposed budget – which he said was filled with uneven distribution of mini-grid power projects for rural communities, alleging that many of them were concentrated in the minister’s LGA.
“It is not just the N52 million”, he said. “But if you look at it (the budget), N30 million, N20 million, N40 million and they are all concentrated in one Local Government Area.
“That is the minister’s LGA. Twenty projects are in Lau Local Government Area. I am not challenging him but I am sure.”
The lawmakers also noticed uniform allocation of N52 million for various projects across the geopolitical zones and queried the essence of executing less than 2 kilometres ones for over five years.
A few others also said that the projects listed in their states were non-existent as they were neither aware of them nor the contractors handling the jobs.
Bala Na’ Allah further accused the minister of violating his oath of office if he approved the citing of the projects in his LGA.
Those who elected us to these offices expected us to ensure that the constitution which they have made for themselves and given to us will be executed to the letter, he said.
“If we sit down here and agree that a budget that pleases a minister, can come, he is not doing himself good because he has sworn to do justice to all manner of the people and not to allow his personal interest to affect his official conduct and decision.
“He has by this clearly shown that he has allowed his personal interest to affect his official conduct and decision, and that is a very serious matter.”
He, thereafter, asked the Managing Director of the agency, Ahmad Salijo, to relay the committee’s concerns to the minister.
“Governance is a very serious issue I think you must take this observation, serious and convey it to the minister. Tell him that the committee is not in agreement with him,” he said.
The minister’s spokesperson, Emmanuel Bello, was not available to comment on the issue as he could not be reached via phone.
The latest development is one of the many discrepancies discovered in the budgets of various ministries, departments and agencies.
Lawmakers have, overtime, either raised concerns about nonexistent projects in the budgets or recurring projects due to slow pace of work on the said project.