ABUJA – The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola has dismissed claims that his team is diverting $600 million (about N219 billion) from the loan finance for the 3050 megawatts (MW) Mambilla hydropower project in Taraba State.
In a statement issued by his spokesman, Hakeem Bella on Sunday, Fashola described the allegation made by Leno Adesanya, Chairman of Sunrise Power Transmission Limited, a supposed local partner for the project as spurious and unfounded.
NEWS FLAGSHIP recalled that, Mr.Adesanya had in November 2018, wrote an open letter to President Muhammad Buhari where he said he had dragged government to court.
Leno said he was sidelined from the contract signing in 2017, after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved it and Mr Fashola signed with two Chinese firms, leaving out the acclaimed local partner – Sunrise Power.
In a response to these enquiries, Mr Fashola in late December 2018 confirmed that the firm was sidelined because there was evidence that government had signed many contracts in the past with it.
He noted further that President Buhari was dealing directly with the Government of China, leaving no room for middlemen and ’10 percenters who don’t add value’.
Mr Adesanya through an online platform reaction accused Fashola of frustrating the project and possibly diverting the N219bn for his pet solar project.
He said this attempt stalled the loan negotiations since 2017 and that pet project was not considered by FEC.
Responding, Fashola said: “There is currently no budgetary provision or cash provision of $600m or the N219bn in any budget of the Federal Government for the Mambila project.
“Therefore you cannot attempt to divert what does not exist,” the minister said in the statement.
Fashola who said he was not frustrating the Mambilla project said he had accompanied the President twice to China over the project and that in June 2018, he alongside officials of the Ministry of Finance, had a meeting with the China EXIM Bank to negotiate the terms of the loan for the project.
“And only this (last) week, after the FEC meeting, he (Fashola) briefed Nigerians about the approval of contracts for surveyors to demarcate the areas for the project.
“These are the first contracts to start preparatory work on the project after 40 years delay,” the statement noted.