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Zero allocation for Mambilla Power Project in 2024 budget

By Faruk Shuaibu, Abdullateef Salau Abbas Jimoh (Abuja) & Mohammed I. Yaba (Kaduna)   There is no allocation in the 2024 budget proposal for the…

By Faruk Shuaibu, Abdullateef Salau Abbas Jimoh (Abuja) & Mohammed I. Yaba (Kaduna)

 

There is no allocation in the 2024 budget proposal for the project of the construction of the multi- billion naira Mambilla Hydro-Power plant at Gembu in Taraba State, Daily Trust reports.

This is just as the Ministry of Power will spend N400 million on conferences in the 2024 fiscal year.

The Mambilla Power Project, which has been subject of controversies during the former administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, is considered to be the largest hydropower plant in the country with the potential to generate over 3,050 Megawatt (MW) of electricity.

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) had, in August 2017, approved $5.792 billion (about N1.140 trillion) for the project.

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The contract was awarded to Chinese Civil and Engineering Company for the engineering and turn-key contract, including civil and electro-mechanical works.

The then Minister of Power, Babatunde Fashola, who had recalled that Nigeria started talking about the Mambilla power project in 1972, said its construction should take about 72 months (six years).

The former minister had said the project would be jointly financed by the federal government and the China Export Import (EXIM) Bank.

He had said EXIM bank would provide 85 per cent of the cost, while the federal government would provide 15 per cent.

“The scope of works of the project will include the construction of four dams and 700 kilometres of transmission lines.”

Fashola had said the project, when completed, would boost the nation’s economy as it would unleash the potential that had been reported about Mambilla in the fields of agriculture, tourism and energy.

“It will also help Nigeria strike a very big blow on the climate change issue and fulfil its commitment under the Paris Agreement, because this is going to be renewable energy, coming also at a relatively competitive cost,” Fashola had stated.

It would be recalled that in 2023, the government, through the ministry of power, had allocated N1.1 billion of its N232.6 billion capital funding to the project.

This included N223 million for consultancy fees, N100 million for consultants to enumerate the communities and another N10 million consultancy fee for land surveyors.

Another consultancy fee for the project was stated to gulp N199 million; while N550m was placed for counterpart funding for the pre-commencement activities.

Daily Trust could not establish whether the monies budgeted were released or not.

 

Nothing for Mambilla

An analysis of the proposed budget for the ministry in 2024 indicates that N400 million has been proposed for international and local investment forum, conference and expo for power; which is a new project in the budget.

The ministry is also to spend N300 million on promotion of investment and development of the power sector.

Further analysis of the 2024 budget proposal showed that the highest project allocated the highest fund from the proposed N96.8bn for capital projects to the ministry is “Nigeria Distribution Sector Recovery Program (DISREP) (Multilateral/Bilateral project tied loan)”, getting N72.4 billion.

Others include; consultancy services for alternate power supply programme, N120bn; distribution expansion programme projects to utilise stranded power from the power grid; N3.3 billion and outstanding compensation for structures, crops, economic trees for the affected communities and persons N1.1 billion.

 

Senate committee to query power minister

The Senate Committee on Power said it would ask the Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu to explain why there is no allocation for the Mambilla Power Project and why the ministry wants to spend N400 million on conferences when he comes for the budget defence.

The Chairman of the committee, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe stated this when contacted by Daily Trust to comment on the issues.

“When the minister of power comes to defend his budget, those are the questions we would want him to explain. Until then, we cannot comment on the allocations,” Abaribe said.

 

It’s plot to sabotage North – Northern elders

The Northern Elders Forum said the zero allocation for the Mambilla Power Project in the 2024 budget showed that the government is not committed to addressing Nigeria’s energy crisis. NEF spokesman, Abdul’azeez Suleiman, in a chat with Daily Trust, said the ministry’s plan to spend N400 million on conferences raises serious questions about the government’s priorities.

“We believe that the neglect of the Mambilla Hydroelectric Power Project is part of a wider agenda to emasculate the North and further cripple its economic viability.

“The construction phase alone was estimated to create 50,000 local jobs, providing a significant boost to the northern region’s economic viability. However, the deliberate sabotage of the project threatens to deny the region these much-needed opportunities for growth and development.

“The facility with immense potential to transform Nigeria’s energy deficit, has unfortunately been plagued by deliberate sabotage and a lack of political will.

“The repeated delays, corruption, political interference and absence of long-term planning surrounding the project have hindered its completion and deprived Nigeria of its numerous benefits.

“And now, the absence of any allocation for the project in the 2024 budget raises concerns about the government’s commitment to addressing the nation’s energy crisis.

“The project was expected to commence operation in 2030 as Nigeria’s largest power plant, generating approximately 4.7 billion kWh of electricity annually, but has faced numerous obstacles throughout its history.

“Despite being conceived in 1972, it was only in 2007 that China’s Gezhouba Group awarded a contract to develop the project with an installed capacity of 2,600MW.

“Administrative clashes and political interference further delayed the project until it finally received government approval in 2016. This prolonged delay demonstrates a lack of political will and a failure to prioritise the nation’s energy needs.

“The absence of any allocation for the Mambilla Power Project in the 2024 budget is a clear indication of the government’s lack of commitment to addressing Nigeria’s energy crisis.

“The revelation that the power ministry plans to spend over N400 million on conferences raises serious questions about the government’s priorities. Allocating such a significant amount of funds to bureaucratic activities while neglecting critical infrastructure projects like the Mambilla Power Project suggests a misplaced focus and a skewed allocation of resources,” he said.

When contacted on why there is no allocation for the Mambilla Power project in the 2024 budget proposal, the Director of Press in the Ministry of Power, Florence Ekeh, told Daily Trust that she was not in the right position to comment on the budget proposal.

 

CISLAC upbraid FG over Mambilla power project neglect

The Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, said it is a misplacement of priorities for huge sums to be allocated to the power ministry for conferences.

“The past administration failed to deliver on the 3,050 MW Mambilla Power Project- the largest Power plant in Nigeria and what could have been the flagship power generation project. One would have presumed that some attention would have been given to it considering the potential contribution to the grid and how it would complement ongoing efforts around the Presidential Power Initiative.”

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