By Ayo Kehinde
Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, on Thursday refuted allegations of fraud in the award of N42bn power projects in nine Nigerian universities and one teaching hospital in breach of the Public Procurement Act, 2007. He appeared before the House Joint Committees on Power/Procurement at the National Assembly in Abuja to answer questions in connection with the project
He appeared before the committee in the company of the Managing Director of the REA, Damilola Ogunbiyi, and top officials of the ministry.
The committees, jointly chaired by Mr. Dan Asuquo and Mr. Wole Oke, got the mandate of the House to probe the “Fraudulent Award of contracts amounting to N42bn on Rural Electrification Schemes for some Federal Universities” and the “Status of Fast Power Programme Accelerated Gas Production for Power Generation by the Federal Ministry of Power.” The value of the fast power programme is $186m.
Universities located in Sokoto, Makurdi, Lagos, Ile-Ife, Bauchi, Awka, and Kano are among the 39 beneficiaries and one teaching hospital were to be the beneficiaries. Companies handling the project, according to the Minister, are General Electric; Siemens; Sterling and Wilson; M.West Africa; and W. Energy.
Out of the list, Fashola disclosed that only two of the firms got approval to handle the first phase of nine projects in nine universities and one teaching hospital.
According to Fashola “There is no contract awarded for N42bn. I got an approval from the Federal Executive Council in December for N38.9bn. We are obliged to pay 15 per cent of the amount in compliance with the PPA. So, in the budget, there was a provision of N9.5bn,”
“In 2017, we proposed N32bn (out of the N38.9bn) in the budget and requested N20bn to start all the 39 projects. However, the appropriation we got was N9bn and I remember that I asked the Chairman, Committee on Power, why he did that and he said I could not get everything I asked for.”
“So, emphatically, there is no fraud. Let me also tell the committee that a lot of pressure has been brought on my members of staff to bring in secondary interests and they have all said no”