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The Senate, yesterday, constituted an ad-hoc Committee to carry out a holistic investigation into the management of funds appropriated to the power sector from the Olusegun Obasanjo civilian administration to date.

 

Yesterday’s action of the Senate would inadvertently probe how the Obasanjo, Umaru Yar‘adua and Jonathan administrations managed funds allocated to the sector.

A similar probe ordered by the House of Representatives into the sector in 2007 under the stewardship of Ndudi Elumelu quickly degenerated into controversy as it was alleged to be a witch-hunt. Another probe ordered by the Senate in that era under the stewardship of Senator Nicholas Ugbane also ended in controversy. Both Ugbane and Elumelu were in 2010 indicted by the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, of involvement in an alleged N5.2 billion contract scam in the Rural Electrification Project of the Federal Government.

Nature abhors a vacuum! Since there is no specific policy direction coming out of Aso Rock, others are filling the vacuum.

Having said that Nigerian politics is like the whale. There is always more under the water than is apparent to the naked eyes until the whale takes a jump!

The stealing in the power sector was mainly under OBJ. UMYA stalled the projects for 2 years and then fell sick. Jonathan sold off the assets and the monies went mainly to NEPA liabilities---especially disengaging staff

Given that anyone who wants to nail Jonathan would start from ministry of petroleum it will seem that this is an arrow aimed at OBJ. Since PMB cannot seem to make up his mind where (& who ) to start the probes the senate seems to want to force his hands!

Fasten your seatbelt folks! What is the Senate and in particular the Senate President REALLY up to?

In the early months of the Yar Adua administration, the House established a committee and spent millions probing the power sector under OBJ. Am sure the report is in the House and l have been trying to remember what came out of it. However, the impact was that it compelled President Yar Adua to suspend the OBJ power program which he inherited and suspended funding all the power projects that were under construction, especially the IPPS. Two year after, when he realized that those who had promised a new road map could not come up with any alternative and the power situation was getting worse, he established the Jonathan committee which toured the country to see things for themselves. The Committee was surprised at what they found on the ground and recommended that the power projects inherited from the previous regime should continue. By the way among those who drew up that power master plan is the current governor of Kaduna State. That two years delay set us back by about five or more years.

That aside, many times in the last administration, both the House and senate at various times not once, not twice, invited the power authorities to brief them on the troubled sector. both Houses were clearly told that even after the privatization, the problems of inadequate gas supply and transmission would remain. At one of the US- Nigeria Bi-national Commission meetings held at the cabinet room of the Rivers State government of which the current Senate President was in attendance in his capacity as the Chairman of the senate committee on environment along with the governors of the Niger Delta, the power reps said the same thing. Subsequent discussions centered on how to make the gas sector attractive for investment. In the meantime, those who participated in the privatization have spent billions mostly borrowed from local and foreign backs to increase generation while on its part government has not done much to improve gas supplies or transmission.

lest we forget, it was the lack of power supply to the north east that forced the senate to decide on a probe but its also politics. The senators that brought the issue up were not totally truthful in their presentations of the real situation in maidugari. Not long ago the Yoa electric company returned the assets it purchased back to the federal government because it could not operate due to the insecurity and the total damage to the electric facilities and structures. I would have thought that the most urgent thing would be to persuade the federal government to focus on rehabilitating the power structures and facilities as a first step towards restoring power to the region. For a house which has refused to reduce its budget or cut its allowances why would we not be distracted.. Well, if we do not want to learn from the mistakes of the past, let the probes begin. for the people of the north east, what do l say, accept my sympathies and wait while we finish with our games.

Announcing the 13-man ad-hoc committee, yesterday, Senate President, Bukola Saraki urged members of the committee to consider their reputation and integrity and come up with a report that would be acceptable to Nigerians. He lamented that a lot of money had been spent on the sector with no results, while Nigeria is still faced with the challenge of power supply.

The committee which has Senator Abubakar Kyari, APC, Borno North, as chairman, was also saddled with the responsibility of looking into irregularities in the unbundling of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN.

Other members of the committee as announced, yesterday, were Senators Mohammed Hassan, Ali Wakili, Godswill Akpabio, Mao Ohuabunwa, Aliyu Wammako, Shaaba Lafiagi, Olusola Adeyeye, Babajide Omoworare, Fatima Razaki, Ighoyota Amori, Mustapha Bukar and Dino Melaye.

According to the Senate President, inadequate power supply in the country was a cause for concern as it had affected economic growth, stressing that besides corruption, lack of power supply had plunged the country into further hardship.

oGBUEFI nDIGBO

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