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$16bn power probe: Obasanjo, Atiku rift hampered energy projects – Imoke

Posted by By JAMES OJO, Abuja on 2008/03/18 | Views: 876 |

$16bn power probe: Obasanjo, Atiku rift hampered energy projects – Imoke


Former Minister of Power and Steel and now Governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke on Monday blamed the crisis between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his deputy, Atiku Abubakar for the poor result from power reform that gulped $16billion.

Former Minister of Power and Steel and now Governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke on Monday blamed the crisis between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his deputy, Atiku Abubakar for the poor result from power reform that gulped $16billion.

His predecessor in office and now Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Agagu’s attempt to insulate himself from contracts awarded to companies not registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) angered the committee.

Chairman of the committee, Hon Ndidi Elumelu, who read the names of the 34 fake companies to the hearing of Agagu, said that he got a court order from Federal High Court Abuja to read the names of the companies in the public.

Responding, Agagu said that he knew the group that had gone to obtain the court order and that it was not his duty to verify if the companies were registered or not.
A total of 34 companies that were not registered with the CAC won contracts totaling N6billion.
Agagu noted that as a minister, he could only sign contracts below N20million, while anything above the amount goes to the Federal Executive Council (FEC), even as he denied doing anything on the controversial Mambila Power project as Minister of Power and Steel.

On the Omotosho power plant, Agagu said that it was his idea to relocate the plant from Okitipupa to Omotosho, so as to be close to the nearest gas power line and the National Grid.
Imoke, who stormed the venue at 11a.m with carton filled with document that was later admitted as evidence, said the rift between Obasanjo and Atiku incapacitated the Presidential committee for performing its statutory duties.
He said that the situation got to a level that contracts for power generation and transmission had to be taken to the Federal Executive Council for approval, instead of the Presidential Committee on Power Reform.

Hailed by hundreds of supporters, including the Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Ndoma Egba, Imoke, who chaired the steering committee on power reform, told the committee that in the climax of the disagreement, over 50 meetings were held without the vice president present.
“As you know, it is a common knowledge that towards the end of that administration, there was difference between the president and the vice president. NIPP was not holding meetings towards the end of the last administration because of the rift with Atiku. In this circumstance, it became imperative that all approval had to be taken to the Federal Executive Council,” Imoke said.

He added, however, that all projects and contracts were technically certified before they were taken to the FEC, with performance bond and Advance Payment Guarantee (APG).
As at the time he left the ministry, Imoke said that no letter of credit had been opened for any contractor to draw money for any job, while advising the panel to ask questions on why contractors had to be paid for a job not done.

“There should be no excuse for non performance,” he added.
A six-day national blackout in March 2000, he explained, compelled former President Obasanjo to draft him to salvage the power sector as head of the technical committee to increase megawatts to 4,000.
By the time he moved to NEPA, he said that only 19 units out of 79 units was working, but that it was increased to 41 units by 2001 and that by 2004, generation had reached 2,600 megawatts, which he noted was the highest in the history of the nation.

On National Independent Power Project (NIPP) floated when he was Minister of Power and Steel, Imoke told the panel that it was never conceived as a company to have a managing director, but an intervention project to exist after the completion of the projects.
Looking unruffled, the Cross River State governor said that it was at a meeting of the Economic Team convened by Chief Obasanjo that the idea of NIPP was formed and to be funded through proceeds from the Excess Crude Accounts.

“NIPP was never a ministry project. It is a project for the three tiers of government. It is not a company that will have a managing director. It is to be funded from money belonging to all the three tiers of government. “ That is why the governors of the oil producing states, a governor representing each zone, representatives of local government chairmen were automatic members of the implementation committee,” he said.

NIPP, according to him, was a project the country needs in view of the myriad of problems in the power sector, but could not understand why money was not provided for its take off.
“NIPP is a project Nigeria needs, that is why I will advise that it should not be politicized, it should not be condemned. The project, if well articulated, should deliver power to the people. What was invested in this project is still a fraction of what Nigeria need to meet her power needs,” he cautioned.
On the claim that NIPP has a managing director in person of James Olotu, Imoke said that it was at the tail end of his sojourn in the power sector that Olotu was appointed as managing director of Niger Delta Power Holding Company to manage the assets and operations of NIPP, not as managing director of NIPP.

On the Mambila Power project, Imoke suggested that the project should be treated as presidential project to achieve its goals, as the feasibility studies were outdated and the machines obsolete.
The Cross River State governor said the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) in his submission before the panel had resolved any disparity noticed in the statutory allocation and distribution to the power sector throughout the period under review.

Agagu had earlier, in a submission, said that he could not respond to most of the questions raised by the committee because he left the ministry of power five years ago when NIPP was not in place.
He gave himself kudos that procurement and financial transactions carried out during his tenure were done in accordance with government guidelines.

During his tenure, the Ondo State governor said that the new Afam power plant (276mw), Omotosho (335mw) and Geregu (410mw) power plants were built, in addition to the Enron Lagos IPP (150mw) and Agip Kwale IPP (450mw) that were signed.
“These were projects billed to add more that 1500mw of new power and take our generation to about 6000mw by June 2004,” he said.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.