Nigeria: Senate Committee Accuses Power Minister of Uneven Projects' Distribution

29 October 2020

The Senate Committee on Power yesterday accused the Minister of Power, Mr. Mamman Saleh, of uneven distribution of mini-grid power projects for rural communities.

It accused Saleh of proposing to locate 20 of such projects in Lau Local Government Area of Taraba State where he hails from.

It, therefore, asked the Managing Director of the Rural Electrification Agency, Mr. Ahmad Salijo, who appeared before the committee to defend the agency's 2021 budget estimate, to go back to the minister and draw his attention to the lopsided distribution of the projects and rectify the error.

A member of the committee, Senator Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf from Taraba Central senatorial district, had drawn the attention of his colleagues to the lopsidedness in the distribution of the electrification projects.

According to him, many of the power projects were concentrated in the minister's LGA.

"It is not just the N52 million project but if you look at the proposal from number 85, N30 million, N20 million and N40 million, respectively are to be spent on rural electricity and they are all concentrated in one local government area, which is the minister's local government area. Twenty projects are in Lau Local Government Area. I am not challenging him but I am sure," he said.

Another member of the committee, Senator Bala Ibn Na' Allah, stated that the minister by his action violated the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

"Those who elected us to this office 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 co-operation 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. He 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.

"We will not sit down and sign this kind of document. We will be failing in our duties; we will be failing in the oath of office we have taken to hold and protect the constitution, if we allow this to go unchallenged.

"Please let him know, there is no sentiment on this matter. Let us all try as much as we can to operate within the elements of our constitution," Na'Allah said.

Chairman of the Committee, Senator Gabriel Suswan, thereafter asked the management of the agency to go back and correct the anomalies discovered in the project identification, location and ensure the even distribution of the projects before re-appearing before the Senate committee next Monday.

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