‘Power sector gulped N2.740tr in 16 years
The revelation was made at an ongoing open hearing in the Senate by a committee set up to investigate government spending in the power sector since 1999.
Of the N2.740 trillion that was said to have been spent so far, the committee was told that N948 billion was released to the Ministry of Power and its agencies, even though a total of N1.6 trillion was appropriated for the ministry and its agencies within the period.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Power, Godknows Igali, who disclosed the figures, also informed the committee that N155 billion was released to the ministry to cushion the effects of the shortfalls in expenditure in the power sector between 2009 and 2013.
Managing Director of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), James Olotu, told the committee that the National Independent Power Projects (NIPP) which is being funded from the excess crude account has gulped $8.23 billion which, when converted to naira at the rate of N200 to the dollar, amounts to N1.640 trillion.
In his presentation, Igali informed the committee that Nigeria’s electricity generation had risen to 4600 megawatts from 3500 megawatts in 2013. He explained that the rise in generation capacity was due to the reduction in the degree of vandalism of power equipment.
According to him, the NIPP is the greatest contributor of power to the National Grid. He also stated that only 2000 former workers of the defunct National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) have not been paid their severance allowance. He said most of those who claimed to have worked for NEPA had no valid documents to prove their claims.
Igali said that proceeds of privatisation were used to settle labour claims of over 46000 workers by the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) through the office of the Accountant General of the Federation and the Pension Commission.
The Senate committee, however, observed that the local government was not represented in the governing board of the NIPP even though it was among the sponsors of the NIPP.
The committee directed Igali to immediately submit audited accounts of the Ministry of Power and its agencies to it, and expressed worry over what it called contradictions and discrepancies in the figures presented as project costs.
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, had at the inauguration of the committee two weeks ago, charged it to conduct a comprehensive probe of allegations of questionable practices in the power sector.
He lamented the continued absence of regular supply of electricity despite the country’s huge investments in the sector and admonished the committee members not to disappoint the Senate, and by extension, Nigerians.
The panel chairman, Kyari, said the charge would be taken very seriously by every member of the committee as he provided detailed explanation of the nature of the investigation expected to be carried out on the sector.