A civil society group, the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) has asked the National Assembly not to appropriate any money for Independent Power projects until a thorough probe of previous expenditure is carried out.
The group in separate, but similar, letters written to the Senate President, David Mark, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal stated that “despite the billions of dollars repeatedly, budgeted and appropriated to the sector, the situation keeps degenerating even with the advent of democratic governance in 1999.”
The letters were dated, May 3, 2012 and signed by the group’s chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju.
Release probe report
In its letter to Mr. Tambuwal, HEDA demanded that the lower house release the official copy of the probe into the national integrated power project conducted by a committee of the House.
“Your predecessor, Hon. Dimeji Bankole confirmed in 2010, sequel to the House probe of NIPP project, that the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo (1999-2007) spent $16billion on power. The House committee probe exposed lots of corruption in the NIPP project (but) was never released to the public,” HEDA said.
Citing sections 2, 3, and 4 of the Freedom of Information Act, the group demanded for a copy of the probe report.
The Lower House under the previous leadership of Dimeji Bankole set up a committee headed by Ndudi Elumelu to probe the billions of dollars spent on the independent power projects.
The projects were supposed to drastically increase power generation in Nigeria as well as improve transmission and distribution of the generated electricity.
Hardly had the committee finished its work that the House emerged in controversy setting up another committee to review the report of the Elumelu led committee.
The report of the Mr. Elumelu led committee is believed to have indicted senior government officials of mismanagement including former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and former Ministers of Power including Liyel Imoke, Governor of Cross River State and Olusegun Agagu, immediate past Governor of Ondo State. The official report was never made public though even though the media had extensively reported on the supposed content.
A History of spending
HEDA gave several examples of huge sums it says the federal Government has spent on the power sector with no avail.
Apart from the controversial sum spent by the Obasanjo administration, HEDA stated that “The Federal Government during Yar’ Adua’s administration, had injected the sum of N762.93billion in February, 2009 into National Integrated Power Projects [NIPP] which was to add 4,770MW of electricity to the national grid (then 1230MW) by the end of 2011.”
The group also stated that “In April, 2009 at the 6th session of the NIPP steering committee, chaired by then Vice President Goodluck Jonathan [now President], contracts worth N15billion were approved.”
“Late 2009, the FG at the Federal Executive Council meeting approved contracts worth N348billion. The approval which was aimed at meeting the failed 6000MW target of electricity was meant to cover power generation, transmission and distribution.”
The group expressed its worry at the recent announcement by the Federal Government that it would invest more money into the power sector saying “despite these unaccounted failures, the Federal Government has recently announced its intention to again invest about N110billion into the sector,” it stated
HEDA therefore asked the National Assembly to use its power of oversight functions to check the expenditure in the power sector.
“We are therefore requesting the National Assembly investigates the money earlier spent by previous administrations from 1999 till date to curtail and discourage further acts of misappropriation and unaccountability in the sector,” it said