BY DANIEL IDONOR
ABUJA-The Federal Executive Council, FEC, presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday approved N7 billion as donation to poorer countries through the global oil cartel, Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC.

Also, the Presidential Project Assessment Committee, PPAC, led by former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Alhaji Bunu Sheriff, has submitted a report on on-going power projects across the country, especially those under the National Integrated Power Project, NIPP, to FEC, with submission that all projects are 80 percent completed.

The FEC meeting also resolved that the payment of the contributory fund be staggered through 2013 to 2020, from the Federation Account.

Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku, who briefed newsmen disclosed that the fund is part of an International Development Fund, being packaged by OPEC to assist poorer nations that are trailing behind OPEC members.

He, however, explained that the money was the outstanding out of the $177.7million pledge made by the country to the Fund in 1976.

According to him, the Council had approved that the money should be paid in instalment between 2013 and 2020, adding that with the FEC approval, the Ministry of Finance was expected to build the money into subsequent Federal Government appropriation bills.

Maku justified Nigeria’s decision to pay the money at this time, saying that as a prime player in the international community, Nigeria wanted to enhance its influence by meeting up with its international obligations, especially among developing nations, as well as stabilize the market for its crude oil.

He said, “we received in council a memo by the Minister of Finance to seek approval to enable Nigeria pay its own counterpart funding of its contribution to the OPEC fund for international development.

The OPEC fund for international development was established in 1976 in Vienna. The purpose of this fund was to enable oil producing countries to put aside some money to assist countries that do not produce oil.

In 1976 Nigeria made a promise to contribute $177.7million to the fund and over this period the country has been making its own contribution, but earlier this year there was a meeting of the fund in Vienna and there was a need for all member countries to complete their own contribution”.

He said further that “Nigeria has a balance of $43.3million to pay to this fund, so today the Minister of Finance brought a memo which council approved to enable Nigeria pay this contribution to OPEC. The money will be paid

instalmentally between 2013 and 2020. This fund is very important because it has helped a number of developing countries particularly in the South to cope with some of the pressures they go through”.

A major issue that dominated FEC, he said, was the presentation of a report by the Presidential Project Assessment Committee, PPAC, led by former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Alhaji Bunu Sheriff, who gave the progress report on ongoing power projects across the country especially those under the National Integrated Power Project, NIPP.

The Minister revealed that the committee advised the federal government to tackle the issue of gas supply to power projects in the country to enable them to deliver electricity adding that the Minister of Power has assured that when the ongoing Gas Master Plan was completed, there would be enough gas to power the projects.

PPAC also recommended the completion of abandoned dam projects in parts of the country which it told FEC that when completed, they could help the government to achieve its target of providing stable electricity supply to the country.

“The PPAC set up by the president, on the power sector. The President had earlier insisted that because of the significance of the project assessment committee there was need for the FEC to listen to the report sector by sector, so that government will derive maximum benefit from the recommendations of the PPAC.  The chairman and members of the committee in todayâ ™s

meeting therefore focused on the power sector projects that are going on in parts of the federation. They gave the us a rundown of their tour of power projects, the level of progress and issues in the field”.

He stated that “the report focused mainly on how government must do everything possible to ensure that power projects are delivered in good time so

that the major sector in which this nation is looking upon us will give results in the lifetime of this administration. They toured all the projects, the gas power projects, particularly the NIPP projects and the committee recommended that one of the issues that we should take time to address is gas supply”.

“The ministry of power and petroleum resources informed council that the gas master plan is already on ground and everything was being done to ensure that it is delivered, so that by the time power

projects are completed there will be gas to run them. The NIPP projects which will give this country over 4000mw electricity are at about 80% completion in the field.

Government was happy about the progress being made in the field but we said we must not rest on our oars. One key recommendation which the

committee made is that all over the country, there are uncompleted dams which could generate a lot of hydro electricity projects for the country”, he said.

FEC, he said, “particularly noted the Dadinkowa dam, in Gombe state, which has the

capacity to deliver 34mw of electricity and there are several other dams stretching from Gombe, Osun, Kano and Katsina state that are also

simply waiting for turbines to be installed to generate electricity. Also the minister of power informed council, that already even ahead of this report they have already planned to ensure that the hydro electric components of this multipurpose dams are implemented in good time to generate additional power particularly in other parts of

the country to stabilize electricity supply. So if this is done in addition to the gas power projects that is on ground, it is expected that power will be delivered and it is expected that there will be some stability in power supply in the life span of this administration”.

Maku assured that “next week, we are expecting the PPAC to again address Council on projects in the works ministry, which we will also take like we did in the area of power. The president set up this committee because rather than allowing them go back to the field until government goes and hands off uncompleted projects it is wiser that we receive all the criticism that we can now

on our projects and wherever things are not working it will give us the opportunity to quickly act on them so that at least the past history of when projects are started and it takes decades to bedelivered will be mitigated”

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