The Senate on Monday lamented that underfunding was hampering efforts to achieve stable power supply in Nigeria.
The upper chamber was also shocked by the revelation of the Minister of Power, Mamman Saleh, that the much talk about $5.8billion Mambilla Power Project had yet to take off .
Saleh spoke when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Power to defend the 2021 budget.
It was another shock when the Managing Director of Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Sule Abdulaziz, said that out of N165 billion required for capital project in 2020, only N3 billion was cash backed out of N4 billion envelope approved.
Taking up the minister on the Mambilla Power Project, the Senator Gabriel Suswam ( PDP Benue North East) -led committee wondered why no money was allocated for the project in the 2021 budget.
Specifically, Senator Shaibu Lau (PDP Taraba North) told the committee members that despite repeated on the project by the Federal Government on yearly basis, there was no access road to the project site and no indication of site clearance not to talk of possible ground breaking .
“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.
The minister in his response admitted that the project had yet to take off but that he was still trying to convince President Muhammadu Buhari on it .
According to him, special fund of $200million targeted for the project is still in the office of the Chief of Staff while the N850million expected from Nigeria as 15% of the contract sum is yet to be paid .
He added that the 85% balance of the contract sum was to be financed by the Chinese NEXIM Bank.
He also revealed that the 3,050 hydroelectric power project touted to be the largest power generating installation in the country had yet to begin.
Irked by his submission, the committee noted that the Mambilla project would address the epileptic power supply in the country.
Senator James Manager in particular said the submission of the minister showed there was no commitment from government on the project.
Senator Danjuma Goje (APC Gombe) in his own comments said, “the hope of getting stable power supply in Nigeria in the nearest future is dashed going by gross underfunding of the sector and lack of required seriousness on those managing the sector to get it fixed up.”
However, the TCN MD in his submissions said the transmission capacity of the country had increased from 5, 000 megawatts to 8,000 megawatts .
“Inadequate funding by government on yearly basis ,remains the major problem of the TCN and by extension the power sector.
“In 2020 fiscal year, our projected money for capital expenditure was N165 billion but only given N4 billion budgetary envelope out of which N3 billion was cash backed,” he added.