by Kemi Busari,
The Senate on Wednesday mandated its committee on power and public accounts to invite the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, to render an account of funds spent on the Afam Fast Power Project.
The lawmakers also want the committee to investigate and consider summoning the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, NSIA, and the Nigerian Electricity Bulk Trading Company, NBET, to establish the status of the $350 million released to NBET.
Presenting the motion tagged, “Monumental Fraud in the Power Sector,” a lawmaker, Dino Melaye, said the $350 million was given to NBET in 2013 as shareholder contribution to shore up its capitalisation and provide assurance to investors that the company is credit worthy.
He said the fund was domiciled with NSIA but that the committee is currently under pressure from the power ministry to release the funds.
“The Senate is alarmed that there is now a desperate attempt by the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing to retrieve this fund ($350 million) and divert same to fund the so called Fast Power Projects which the Ministry has already spent $35 million of public funds not appropriated by the National Assembly,” Mr. Melaye said while presenting the bill.
He accused the ministry of spending $35 million on Afam Power Project without requisite feasibility study or appropriation by the National Assembly.
The Senate in its resolution mandated the committee to invite Mr. Fashola to provide evidence of feasibility study indicating the viability of the said project, requisite appropriation by the National Assembly as required by the constitution, and the controversial presidential approval for the projects.
The committee was also mandated to investigate and consider summoning the NSIA and NBET to establish the status of the funds ($350million) and to report back to the Senate within two weeks.
The lawmakers, however, rejected the prayer moved by Mr. Melaye to “direct the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing to stop or suspend all attempts or efforts to pressurise NSIA to release the sum of $350 million meant for NBET to the Ministry for use on the controversial fast power projects.”
The Senate also adopted an additional prayer that its committee on judiciary carry out a review of the present NSIA Act and identify areas that need further legislative action.