From Isaac Anumihe, Abuja, with agency report
The controversial Mambilla Hydro Electric Power project which has defied every known solution, has come to the fore again with the Minister of Power, Abubakar Aliyu, disclosing that the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is investigating the award of $5.8 billion contract to Sunrise Power.
Fielding questions during an interrogation, the Minister told the senators that his ministry has met with stakeholders and all issues of concern are being resolved.
He revealed that the Sunrise litigation on the project was the only problem hampering its commencement.
“It has something to do with litigation. There is nothing going on as regards moving to site.
“The EFCC has stepped into the matter and we have given them information about it. We have given them the history of the power project. Our lawyers have interfaced with the anti-graft agency. Unless we are able to pull out of litigation, we can’t do anything.
“I don’t think the investor will bring his money where there is encumbrance.” he said.
Chairman, senate committee on power, Gabriel Susuwan, said the project was a mirage as far as the national assembly was concerned because funds had been budgeted for many years and there was nothing on ground.
According to him, the initial scope of the project was slightly about 3,000 megawatts, saying that there were issues.
“We were told that it was going to be re-scoped. Till date, even the re-scoping of the project has not been done.
“So in essence, it means that there is no project that is on ground like Mambilla. It is all about talks and lips service. That is why we are concerned about the money that is provided for consultancy and the money used for the training of staff that are supposed to be utilised if Mambilla was in place.
“Why provide money all these years when nothing actually is on ground.
“Since 2017, monies have been provided for Mambila but nothing has been done on the project in spite of the pressure we have been mounting on federal government.
“It is clear that the Mambilla power project will not be able to start before the end of this administration” he noted.
When completed, the 3,050megawatts power station is expected to be the largest power-generating installation in the country, and one of the largest hydroelectric power stations in Africa.
The former Minister of Power Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola had told Daily Sun, last year, in an interview, that the project was supposed to be a very big source of energy.
“All I can tell is that the drive to implement the Mamdilla project was at the instance of the president because it was supposed to be a very big source of energy and also renewable energy. I have left the Ministry of Power once 2019. This is 2021. So, I have no information to share with you about what is going on there” he said.
In an accelerated hearing suit recently filed by Sunrise Power at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Court of Arbitration, Paris, it demanded $400 million from the Nigerian government for failing to pay the compensation.
Sunrise Power had, on October 10, 2017, dragged Nigeria to arbitration in France seeking a $2.354 billion award for “breach of contract” in relation to a 2003 agreement to construct the 3,050MW plant in Mambilla on a “build, operate and transfer” basis.
Buhari had directed Abubakar Malami, the attorney-general of the federation, to negotiate a settlement agreement so that the case could be withdrawn.
However, when the duo negotiated, they reached an agreement to pay $200 million and executed it on behalf of the federal government.