By Emman Ovuakporie
ABUJA— FORMER Chairman, House Committee on Power in 2007, in the 6th House of Repre-sentatives, Ndudi Elumelu, yesterday, said powerful Nigerians from all walks of life killed the power sector.
Elumelu, who disclosed this yesterday in a reaction to the on-going Senate probe of the sector, said: “For now, I won’t mention names, but the truth is that most Nigerians that we respect because of what they have attained in life destroyed the power sector.”
According to Elumelu, the power sector had been used by cabals in connivance with government officials to bleed the nation to near-death, adding that “a situation where government would spend $1.545 billion on nine gas turbines, when 18 of same equipment were bought for $404 million within a short period was evil and a rape of the nation’s economy.
“From Kubwa to Katampe sub-station in Abuja, there’s a transmission line. When we checked the cost of the line, we found that it was over-inflated. Then another mind-boggling discovery was made where 18 turbines were procured for $404 million from General Electric.
“Then when additional nine turbines were needed, they now spent $1.545 billion on them.
“The excuse they gave for such an unpardonable sin was that an African country had paid earlier for the nine turbines hence the astronomical increase of over $600m.
“This is just one of so many terrible sins committed by our powerful men in high places.
“Power sector probe requires lots of commitment and dedication for one to get out of it unhurt. So I am happy that the Senate came up again with it because it is quite disheartening to see that with what has been expended on the sector, we are still battling to generate just about 3,500 Megawatts of electricity.
The Brazil example
“In the course of doing our investigation, we travelled to Brazil for a comparative assessment of public investment in electricity and we found out that what they spent to achieve stable electricity was far less than what we had spent, but had nothing to show for.
“In Brazil, Geometric Power told me that they spent $12 billion to generate 12,000 Megawatts and it is working very well. At that time Nigerian government had already spent close to $16 billion to generate between 2,500 to 3,000 Megawatts of electricity.”
The lawmaker also explained how unregistered companies were awarded contracts and never showed up at contract sites.
He said: “The Special Assistant to former Minister of Power, late Dr Segun Agagu, swore to an affidavit with names of such companies that were awarded contracts. All these vital documents including that of the Auditor General are still intact.”
On why former President Olusegun Obasanjo was invited by his committee, Elumelu said: ”All we wanted to do then was for him to confirm to us what was approved for the power sector.
“All the documents were counter-signed by the former President, who approved most of the contracts and people then said our action was unparliamentary because he was invited.
“The former President used to say ‘hold me responsible for all the actions of my ministers’. In this case, we felt he was in the right position to tell us those who did what and how his administration was involved.”
The former lawmaker also advised members of the Senate ad hoc committee probing the nation’s power sector to shun ethnic and geopolitical consideration and put Nigeria first if the exercise must yield desired results that will benefit the country.
He also urged the Senate to do more by going in-depth in their probe even as he expressed fear that those responsible for the helpless situation the nation’s power sector found itself will not rest, but will try to plant their agents in the committee for the purpose of sabotaging the exercise.
He said: “What they have set out to do is very commendable given the anti corruption drive of the current administration, but don’t be surprised if you also find out that some of the people on the committee are even sponsored by these powerful people. So it is a highly organized cabal which runs these things.”
He assured that he would be available to make a presentation before the probe panel if a well publicised platform is made available at the public hearing.