The members of the Senate Committee on Power expressed dissatisfaction on Monday when the Minister of Power, Mamman Saleh said the $5.8bn Mambilla Power Project had yet to take off.

In a similar development, the committee also expressed surprise over the submission of the Managing Director of Transmission Company of Nigeria, Sule Abdulaziz on the poor funding of the power sector.

Abdulaziz revealed during the budget defense session which the minister and the TCN MD had with the Senate Committee on Power that out of N165bn required for capital project in 2020, only N4bn had been released, while N3bn had been cash backed.

The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Gabriel Suswam and other members like Senator Shaibu Lau, Danjuma Goje, James Manager wondered why no fund was allocated for the project in the 2021 budget.

Lau who hails from Taraba State told the committee members that despite the yearly promises made on the project by the Federal Government, there was no access road to the project site.

“Nothing in the proposed 2021 budget that concerns Mambilla, showing that there is no commitment from government. The truth about the project going by glaring realities on ground over the last 10 years is that Mambilla will not see the light of the day,” he said.

In his response, the minister admitted that the project had yet to take off but added that he was still trying to convince the President Muhammadu Buhari on it. He said that a special fund of $200m targeted for the project was still in the office of the Chief of Staff while the N850m expected from Nigeria as 15 per cent of the contract sum had yet to be paid. He stated further that the 85 per cent balance of the contract sum was to be financed by the Chinese NEXIM Bank.

Mambilla Power Project is a 3,050 hydroelectric power which after completion will be the largest power generating installation in Nigeria. Suswam and other members of the committee said solution must be found to the Mambila issue to put an end to the epileptic power supply in the country.

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On the basis of the minister’s submission, Manager said there was no seriousness from the government on the project and according to him, Nigerians are getting frustrated.

The TCN MD told the committee that the transmission capacity of the country had increased from 5,000megawatts to 8,000megawatts. He blamed inadequate funding by government on yearly basis as the major problem of the TCN and the power sector as a whole. According to him, the projected money for capital expenditure in 2020 fiscal year was N165bn but only N4bn was given budgetary envelope out of which N3bn was cash backed.