By Emman Ovuakporie
ABUJA—MINISTER of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, yesterday told a House of Representatives probe panel investigating an infraction of alleged N42 billion rural electrification contract that there was no contract of such a value.
He told the House joint committees on Power and Procurement led by Daniel Asuquo and Wole Oke that such an amount was not even approved in the 2017 appropriation rather “what was approved was N9 billion.
The Minister reminded Asuquo that “if you remember, we requested for N20 billion but you only approved N9 billion and when I asked you why, you said you can’t get everything and I kept quiet.”
At this point, the Minister was asked to make his presentation before questions and answers session and he pointed out that: “The sum of N9 billion was appropriated in 2017 budget and was applied in initial eightuniversities, the original plan was to apply it to nine universities and one teaching hospital and not a contract of N42 billion as alleged. The Energizing Education programme was initially misunderstood as it was presented as if it was just street light instead of a comprehensive electrification project.
”This time around, the allegation has risen against the same project and it is pertinent to state that the Energizing Education programme is the first youth and education targeted electrification policy in the country. It has a slant towards supporting the realisation of National Determined Contribution of the Federal Government in the world’s change mitigation Initiative.”
Sensing that the Minister had a ready-made answers to proposed questions, the lawmakers tailored their questions on whether due process was followed.
On the process of award he said with the approval of Bureau for Public Procurement, BPP, six world class bidders were given the nod with an express approval from BPP.
Asked whether BPP gave approval for the project, Fashola answered in the affirmative and directed members of the Committee to look at his presentation before them.
Chairman of Power Committee insisted that an approval was given in December 2017 and the letter BPP sent connoted that approval was sent just Wednesday, January 24, 2018.
The Director of Procurement of BPP, Engr Babatunde Kuye had to explain why he sent the letter hurriedly after confirming that the Bureau actually approved the contract in 2017 to the Committee.
The lawmakers later allowed the Minister to leave the venue as he had earlier requested for speedy hearing to allow him catch a flight to Lagos for an event.
In her presentation, Damilola Ogunbiyi, Managing Director of Rural Electrification Agency, REA, who denied all the allegations, however explained that the project was designed for generation of 28.56MW covering nine federal universities and one Teaching Hospital across the six geopolitical zones.
She said: “I would like to unequivocally place it on record that no contract has been awarded by REA amounting to N42 billion on the Rural Electrification Scheme in some federal or any other universities.”
On her part, Olufunke Dinneh, NERC General Manager, Legal Licensing & Compliance explained that the Commission received application from Rural Electrification Agency for the Captive Generation.
According to the document submitted and the Commmssion on the 23rd October, 2017 approved the applications for captive power generation permits in tandem with the Captive Power Generation Act, 2008.