Mam­billa Power project is set to take off, writes Garba Shehu

THISDAY - - COMMENT - Shehu is Se­nior Spe­cial As­sis­tant to the Pres­i­dent (Me­dia and Pub­lic­ity)

Wed­nes­day, Au­gust 30 ap­proval by the Fed­eral Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cil (FEC) for the award of the con­tract for the en­gi­neer­ing, pro­cure­ment and con­struc­tion of the 3050 MW Mam­billa Hy­dro Elec­tric Power Project re­flects Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari’s strong com­mit­ment to the de­vel­op­ment of in­fra­struc­ture in the coun­try. After more than 40 years on the draw­ing board, the FEC ap­proval for the award of the con­tact to a con­sor­tium of three Chi­nese com­pa­nies, Messrs CGCC-SINOHYDRO-CGOCC Joint Ven­ture rep­re­sents a mile­stone in the jour­ney for the re­al­i­sa­tion of the coun­try’s long-stand­ing dream.

The land­mark in­fra­struc­ture project will cost the coun­try the sum of US5,792b in­clu­sive of taxes, en­vi­ron­ment util­i­sa­tion, works, as well as project land ac­qui­si­tion and com­pen­sa­tion to about 100,000 peo­ple who will be re­set­tled.

From 2015 when he took power from the Jonathan-led, Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party (PDP) ad­min­is­tra­tion, Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari has, in ad­di­tion to the suc­cess­ful pros­e­cu­tion of the costly war against ter­ror­ism and eco­nomic sab­o­tage, un­leashed a slew of in­fra­struc­ture projects that would change the face of the coun­try. These projects in­clude rail­way, roads, air­ports, hous­ing and agri­cul­ture, among many oth­ers.

The spe­cific case of Mam­billa presents an in­ter­est­ing story, given the many years it has taken to leave the draw­ing board. As far back as 1972, a pre­lim­i­nary study was car­ried out by Moto Colum­bus, and con­firmed by an indige­nous wa­ter re­sources con­sul­tancy, Diyam Con­sul­tant led by dis­tin­guished Nige­rian en­gi­neer, the late Malam Sal­ihi Ilyasu which rec­om­mended the con­struc­tion of a hy­dropower project with a rated ca­pac­ity of 3,960 MW.

From then to now, var­i­ous gov­ern­ments made ef­forts, or to put it in a bet­ter way, pre­tended to be com­mit­ted to ac­tu­al­is­ing the project but noth­ing came of it. Sham at­tempts to de­velop the project on Build-Op­er­ate-Trans­fer (BOT) also failed to achieve the com­mence­ment of con­struc­tion. A gov­ern­ment re­vo­ca­tion of a BOT ap­proved by a for­mer pres­i­dent through an an­tic­i­pa­tory ap­proval led to a pro­tracted lit­i­ga­tion that stalled the project.

In 2011, the then ad­min­is­tra­tion ap­proved the award of con­tract for con­sul­tancy ser­vices for the de­tailed de­sign and project man­age­ment and su­per­vi­sion of a re­vised power out­put of 2,600 Mam­billa Hy­dro Elec­tric Power project at the sum of USD 37,220,068,72.

The ma­jor break­through in the ex­e­cu­tion of this project was achieved when Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari ini­ti­ated dis­cus­sions at the level of the Pres­i­dent of the Peo­ples Repub­lic of China in the course of his state visit to that coun­try.

One of the achieve­ments of the visit was the bi­lat­eral agree­ment be­tween the two gov­ern­ments to co­op­er­ate on the project and in par­tic­u­lar, for the Peo­ples Repub­lic of China to pri­ori­tise Chi­nese fi­nanc­ing of the Mam­billa Hy­dro-Elec­tric Power Project us­ing Chi­nese con­trac­tors.

The for­ma­tion of the Joint Ven­ture by the three com­pa­nies, CGCC, SINOHYDRO and CGCOC un­der the guid­ance of the Chi­nese au­tho­rises at the re­quest of our gov­ern­ment was sig­nif­i­cant in break­ing the dead­lock caused by lit­i­ga­tion. It also ended need­less com­peti­tor wran­gling.

Fol­low­ing this de­vel­op­ment, a se­ries of meet­ings took place to re­duce the cost of the project from the pro­jected USD 6.62 bil­lion to the now agreed sum of USD 5,729,497,062.00.

The im­por­tance of this project is be­ing counted in its ca­pac­ity to trans­form the im­pacted com­mu­ni­ties in Taraba State and be­yond that, the coun­try as a whole. To quote the Min­is­ter of Power, Works and Hous­ing, Mr. Ba­batunde Raji Fashola speak­ing on the Mam­billa project, “it will have a trans­for­ma­tional ef­fect on all of Nige­ria’s so­cio-eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. Dur­ing its con­struc­tion and upon com­ple­tion, and sub­se­quent op­er­a­tion, it will have con­sid­er­able pos­i­tive im­pact on elec­tric­ity sup­ply na­tion­wide, pro­duc­tiv­ity, em­ploy­ment, tourism, tech­nol­ogy trans­fer, ru­ral de­vel­op­ment, ir­ri­ga­tion, agri­cul­ture and food pro­duc­tion in the area and be­yond.”

This show-piece in­fra­struc­ture project by the Muham­madu Buhari ad­min­is­tra­tion will there­fore chart a new course of pros­per­ity in Taraba, the North-East and the en­tire coun­try. It will no doubt help the coun­try’s in­fra­struc­ture. After con­struc­tion, it will be the big­gest sin­gle power project in the coun­try.

Con­sid­er­ing what this land­mark in­fra­struc­ture project means to the coun­try’s economy, so­ci­ol­ogy and pol­i­tics, it is hard to fathom why the past ad­min­is­tra­tions de­layed the Mam­billa power project in­or­di­nately.

Al­though blame for this is shared by gov­ern­ments over this 40-year pe­riod, the ones to take the big­ger share are the gov­ern­ments dur­ing which ten­ure the oil sec­tor boomed with oil prices as high as US$ 120.

That pe­riod in ques­tion, es­pe­cially the one pre­ced­ing Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari’s sec­ond com­ing was one of missed op­por­tu­nity and mis­placed pri­or­i­ties. The long over­due in­vest­ments in power and trans­port needed to un­lock the economy were ig­nored. Nige­ria earned un­prece­dented dol­lar rev­enues. But there is noth­ing to show for the rev­enues earned. No ma­jor cap­i­tal project was com­pleted, nei­ther power gen­er­a­tion, road de­vel­op­ment, rail nor agri­cul­ture ben­e­fited from the wind­fall earn­ings. Rather, the ad­min­is­tra­tion presided over the di­ver­sion of oil rev­enues on a such a mas­sive scale.

Pres­i­dent Buhari on the other hand has a pos­i­tive and pros­per­ous vi­sion for Nige­ria. A na­tion in which the nat­u­ral tal­ent and hard work of the peo­ple is be­ing sup­ported by an en­abling en­vi­ron­ment of in­fras­truc­tural de­vel­op­ment and pol­icy re­forms that will de­velop a firm fu­ture for our na­tion.


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