Daily Trust

Mambilla Power: Senate queries FG over N812m for land surveying, demarcatio­n

- By Abdullatee­f Salau

The Senate Committee on Power yesterday asked the Minister of Power, Saleh Mamman, to account for the N812m the federal government paid to the Taraba State Government for the surveying and demarcatio­n of land where the Mambilla power project would be sited.

The committee’s chairman, Senator Gabriel Suswam, said the minister must give account of how the money was used since it was given by the federal government.

“It’s left for you to ask the Taraba government to furnish you with the details of how the N812m was spent,” Suswam said.

A member of the committee, Senator Yusuf A. Yusuf (APC, Taraba), had expressed concern that paying the money to the state government would make it impossible for the Senate panel to oversight how the money is spent.

“We can’t appropriat­e money for land survey and demarcatio­n for Mambilla power project and the money is given to Taraba government to engage land surveyors. This is make it difficult for the Senate to oversight the usage of the money,” Yusuf had said.

Responding, the minister said the money was paid to the Taraba State Government based on the agreement between the state and the federal government.

“We entered into agreement with the state to support it with money to engage firms, based on the local procuremen­t process, to survey and demarcate the land it donated for the project,” he said.

Mamman also explained that the government reduced the capacity of the Mambilla hydro power project to 1,500 megawatts to make it bankable and acceptable to foreign lenders.

The $5.8bn power plant in

Taraba State, planned for over three decades, was designed to generate 3,050 megawatts of electricit­y.

In 2017, the federal government approved the constructi­on of the project to a Chinese state firm.

China’s Export-Import Bank will provide 85 percent of the funding and Nigerian government will supply the remaining 15 percent for the joint venture.

Mamman said: “We discovered that the 3,050 megawatts is not feasible. We’ve sent officials to China to review the project and the memo is on the table of Mr President waiting for approval.

“The idea of rescoping the project is to make it bankable. The market we’re operating today in Nigeria is different from the market that was operated when the Mambilla project was conceived.

“Today, we need a project that can be paid for in the market. We are funding the project with loan from a lender who is only interested in funding a project that can pay back the loan.

“Most of the issues around the Mambilla power plant are on bankabilit­y of the project. What we did was to redesign the project to be bankable and acceptable to the lenders,” the minister said.

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