Damilola Shittu – Abuja
There is no budgetary provision for the construction of the 3,050 megawatts Mambila hydropower project, the Federal Government declared on Sunday.
The government said the claims that the loan negotiations for the project had stalled since 2017 because of an attempt to utilise $600m (N219 billion) from the project for an alleged pet project not hitherto considered by the Federal Executive Council were false and misleading.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, condemned reports suggesting that the project had been stalled, adding that the China Exim Bank would only disburse money for specific projects such as the Mambila power project after the conclusion of negotiations.
The minister, who spoke in Abuja, said, “Nothing is further from the truth than the claim that the loan negotiations have stalled since 2017 because of an attempt to utilise $600m (equivalent of N219bn) from the 3,050MW hydropower project for a ‘pet project’ not hitherto considered by the Federal Executive Council.
“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.”
Fashola added, “For the avoidance of doubt, the China Exim Bank disburse money to specific projects and on conclusion of negotiations, the loan will be devoted to the construction of the Mambila Power Project, which has been on the drawing board for close to 40 years before the advent of the Buhari administration which is now working assiduously to get the project off the ground.”
He said the allegation with regard to stalling the Mambilla project was untrue and baseless.
The Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing also argued in a statement that events and relevant facts would show that Fashola first presented a memo on the Mambilla Power Project to the Federal Executive Council in August 2017.
This, it said, was the first ever Federal Executive Council approval given to the Mambilla project in favour of a Chinese Joint venture.
It stated that the minister had also accompanied the President twice to China on trips that had the project as one of the headline agenda.
The FMPWH stated that the minister in June 2018 attended, alongside officials of the Federal Ministry of Finance, a meeting of the China Exim Bank to negotiate the terms of the loan for the project further.
It stated that just last week, after the Federal Executive Council meeting, Fashola briefed Nigerians about the approval of contracts for surveyors to demarcate the areas for the project.
The ministry said these were the first contracts to start preparatory work on the project after 40 years’ delay.