The Senate Committee on Power on Wednesday expressed dissatisfaction over the proposed citing of 20 power projects in Lau Local Government Area of Taraba State where the Minister of Power, Mamman Saleh, hails from.
While scrutinizing the 2021 budget proposals of the Rural Electrification Agency, the committee identified 20 rural electrification projects of various sums, ranging between N20m to N52m in the proposal submitted to the National Assembly.
The Managing Director of REA, Ahmad Salijo, presented and defended the budget before the Senate Committee on Power, which has Senator Gabriel Suswam, as chairman.
The committee members expressed dismay that the record indicated that only one of the electrification projects for 2021 in the entire South-South geopolitical zone was proposed to be cited in Delta State.
The senators identified uniform allocation of N52m for various projects across the geopolitical zones and faulted the essence of executing less than 2 kilometres ones for over five years.
It was when Senator Yusuf, a member of the panel from Taraba State drew the attention of his colleagues to the lopsidedness in the distribution of the projects that trouble started.
The Senator specifically stated that the proposal was fraught with uneven distribution of mini-grid power projects for rural communities, alleging that many of them were concentrated in the minister’s Local Government Area.
He said, “It is not just the N52m but if you look at from number 85, N30m, N20m, N40m and they are all concentrated in one Local Government Area. That is the minister’s LGA.Twenty projects are in Lau Local Government Area. I am not challenging him but I am sure.”
Senator Bala Ibn Na’ Allah, another member of the committee accused the minister of alleged violating his oath of office if he approved the citing of the projects in his LGA.
Na’ Allah said, “Those who elected us to these offices expected us to ensure that the constitution which they have made for themselves and given to us will be executed to the letter.
“The President wants to be the president of every citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Therefore, he would want loyalty and cooperation from every citizen of the country. If we sit down here and agree that a budget that pleases a minister, can come, he (Minister) is not doing himself good because he has sworn to do justice to all manner of the people and not to allow his personal interest to affect his official conduct and decision.”
According to Na’ Allah, the minister has by this clearly shown that he has allowed his personal interest to affect his official conduct and decision, and that is a very serious matter.
“Governance is a very serious issue I think you (MD) must take this observation, serious and convey it to the minister. Tell him that the committee is not in agreement with him.” He said.
Some senator also alleged that all the projects listed in their states were non-existence as they were neither aware of them nor the contractors handling the jobs.