The Senate yesterday asked Nigerians not to expect stable power supply in the nearest future due to gross underfunding of the power sector and apparent lack of seriousness on the part of the federal government in getting it fixed.
This is just as the Minister of Power, Mr. Mamman Saleh, disclosed to members of the Senate Committee on Power that the much talked about $5.8billion Mambilla power project which is expected to generate 3,050 megawatts is yet to take off.
The Managing Director of Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Sule Ahmed Abdulaziz, also told the committee that out of N165 billion required by TCN for capital projects in 2020, N4billlion envelope was given, out of which only N3billion was cash-backed.
These revelations came up during 2021 budget defence session the Minister and the TCN MD had with the Senate Committee on Power in Senate conference room 231.
The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Gabriel Suswam and other members like Senators Shaibu Lau, Danjuma Goje and James Manager wondered why no dime was allocated for the Mambilla power project in the 2021 budget.
Senator Lau who hails from Taraba State where the power project is located, told the committee members that despite promises upon promises made on the project by the federal government on yearly basis, no access road to the project site, no any indication of site clearance talkless of possible grand breaking.
He said: “Nothing in the proposed 2021 budget that concerns Mambilla, showing that there is no commitment from the government. The truth about the project going by glaring realities on the ground over the last ten years is that Mambilla will not see the light of the day”.
Responding, the Minister admitted that the project is yet to take off adding that he was still trying to convince the 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% of the contract sum is yet to be paid.
The 85% balance of the contract sum, he added, is to be financed by the Chinese NEXIM Bank.
Saleh explained that the project is a 3,050 Hydroelectric power project which after completion will be the largest power generating installation in the country.
Chairman and other members of the committee pointedly told the Minister that solution must be found to the Mambilla issue as part of moves address the issue of epileptic power supply in the country.
Senator Manager was of the view that going by the submission of the minister there is no seriousness from the government on the project which is getting Nigerians frustrated.
Goje, on his part, 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”.
Earlier in his submission before the committee, TCN MD revealed that the transmission capacity of the country, has increased from 5, 000 megawatts to 8,000 megawatts.
According to him, “inadequate funding by the 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 N165 billion but only given N4 billion budgetary envelope out of which N3billion was cash backed”, he said.