The Senate has commenced an investigation into the alleged plan by the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing to secure the release of $350m domiciled with the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority to finance electricity projects.
The lawmakers specifically criticised the ministry for allegedly spending $35m out of the money on power projects without approval by the National Assembly.
The decision followed the adoption of a motion by Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi-West), at the plenary on Wednesday, entitled, ‘Monumental Fraud in the Power Sector.’
Granting a prayer of the motion, the Senate mandated its Senate Committees on Power and Public Accounts to invite the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN) “to render a detailed account in terms of public funds spent on the Fast Power Projects (Afam Fast Power Project in particular); evidence of feasibility study indicating the viability of the projects; requisite appropriation by the National Assembly as required by the Constitution; and the controversial presidential approval for the projects.”
President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, in his remarks, noted that the issues had previously been raised concerning the power sector in the chamber.
He also noted that the law establishing the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority was due for a review.
“It is not having proper oversight. First, I am told that they don’t require any confirmation for their appointment by the Senate; there is no report to the Senate; and this is an organisation that is controlling over $1.5bn and a lot of monies are being sent there; and it is growing everyday with no oversight at all.
“I think there is the need for relevant committees to duly carry out a diligent investigation on the activities of the NSIA,” Saraki said.
In the motion, Melaye recalled that the Federal Government raised $1bn through an Eurobond issue in July 2013, while the government released $350m out of the sum to the Nigeria Electricity Bulk Trading Company Plc as shareholder contribution to shore up its capitalisation.
Melaye said, “The Senate observes that this fund has been with the NSlA since 2014 and has helped build market confidence especially among new investors in the electricity market who see NBET’s positive balance sheet as a form of security that their investments are safe and that NBET has the wherewithal to meet its payment obligations.
“The Senate is alarmed that there is now a desperate attempt by the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing to retrieve this fund ($350m) and divert same to fund the so-called Fast Power Projects, which the ministry has already spent $35m of public funds not appropriated by the National Assembly.
“The Senate is further alarmed that since the introduction of the Fast Power Project by the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, a total sum of $35m has been spent by the ministry on Afam Power Project alone to pay $29m to General Electric as cost for turbines and $6m in consultancy fees to other entities respectively, all without requisite feasibility study of the projects and appropriation by the National Assembly as required by the Constitution.”
The senator said “a lot of questions are begging for answers” as regards the $29m paid to General Electric and the $6m paid to other consultants.