..Asks NSIA, NBET to provide evidence, bank statements on status of $350m Eurobond Fund
By Henry Umoru
ABUJA- THE Senate has summoned the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun to appear before it to explain why the assessed loan designed to revive the power sector was diverted by the federal government to remodel four airports across the country.
According to the Senate, there was $600 million dollars Euro bond from the Chinese government for the rehabilitation of the power sector, out of which $100 million dollars was used as counterpart funding for the remodeling of Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt Airports.
Also to appear before the Senator Matthew Urhoghide, PDP, Edo South led Joint Senate Committee on Public Accounts and Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy are the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and the Director- General, Debt Management Office, DMO, Mrs Patience Oniha.
Speaking yesterday in Abuja when the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Sabiu Zakari appeared before the Committee, Senator Urhoghide asked them to appear before the Committee next week Thursday to explain the rational behind the movement of such loans from its original purpose to a fresh one.
According to the Senate, there was the need to establish the desirability of the loan, just as it said that when the loan was being douche by the Federal Government, it was very clear what it was for and not as counterpart funding to finance Chinese loan for the Airports.
Urhoghide said, ” we need to establish the desirability of the loan, it was for power sector, to develop the sector, it was for the Nigerian Electricity Bulk Trading Company, NBET, Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, among others. Aviation was not in the picture, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC was used as secure the loan. Aviation did not apply for it, not in the list of agencies to benefit. There was no Presidential approval, Aviation was not listed as a beneficiary. ”
The Senate said that it would want to know whether there was a formal letter from the Ministry of Aviation to the Finance Ministry to finance the counterpart funding as well as to assess the $500 million dollars, just as it said that it would want to know whether the process got the blessings of the National Assembly.
According to the Senate, the Ministry must furnish it with vital information on the update of the project, how much has been spent on the project, if it was signed in dollars or local currency or both, among others.
Responding, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Sabiu Zakari who promised to come with the needed information next week, said that the $100 million was a loan given to the ministry which must be paid back.
Also yesterday, the Committee has asked the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), Uche Orji, and the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Electricity Bulk Trading Company, NBET, Dr. Marylyn Amobi to furnish it with evidence, bank statements, statement of account and all other relevant documents to prove that the $350 million fund was safe.
Orji had told the Senate Committee that the fund has increased by $34 million, that $397.5 million was initially realised, deduction of $13.5 million to service the interest of the amount, reduced the funds to $384 million.
He said, “The NBET funds are intact with the NSIA. As of our September statement, it has grown from $350 million to $397.5 million. $13.5 million was recalled by NBET to service the interest. So what we have at the moment is $384 million. So the funds are with us and they are safe.”
It will be recalled that the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun had said that the idea behind the AFAM 3 fast Power Project was to provide a framework for getting the $ 350 million Abacha loot after negotiations between the Swiss government and Nigeria government.
An agreement was therefore reached with General Electric for payment of 15% of the amount as agreed with General Electric of $18 billion. The amount being $28 million.
However, after the payment to General Electric of the 15%, the Swiss government refused to return the Abacha loot for power purposes and with this, Nigeria was now left to find the AFAM Fast Power Project not budgeted for and has no appropriations.
This shows how Nigerian projects are abandoned, just as questions are asked on where will Nigeria get another 350 million dollars for AFAM Fast Power based on Abacha loot, but now cannot get the loot.