Senator Dino Melaye, representing Kogi West Senatorial District in the National Assembly (NASS) stirred the hornet’s nest recently as he took a swipe at the Nigeria’s power sector, describing it as reeking of corruption.
Acting on the mandate and directives of the upper legislative chamber, the Kogi-born Senator during plenary, presented a substantial motion on what he referred to as “series of financial abuses in the power sector”.
Apparently securing the nod of his colleagues on the presentation of the motion through a voice vote, Melaye went ahead to expose the alleged financial impropriety within the power sector.
Citing Order 42 of the Senate Standing Rule, Melaye, who is renowned for his knack for controversy drew the attention of his colleagues to the $1.35 billion allegedly squandered within the power sector.
He explained that about $1 billion Eurobond raised in 2003 to fund key power sector projects was allegedly spent by officials of the Ministry of Power without appropriation and feasibility study.
According to him. “In July 2003, the Federal Government raised $1 billion from Eurobond issue, from which $350 million was given to Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET), in 2014, this money was stolen in installments”.
He added: “Sometime last year, the ministry of power came up with an idea of a project they called Afam Fast Power to build new generating power plants to add power to our grid, so far $35 million has been spent by the ministry of power on the Afam Fast Power project without appropriation or detailed feasibility study”.
The motion also sought to know how $29 million was purportedly paid to General Electric for turbines, while other firms received $6 million for same project.
Senator Melaye in his vintage hyper critical posture, urged fellow senators to carry out thorough investigation on the matter in line with the anti-corruption fight of the Federal Government.
Senator Melaye’s revelation of the festering rot in the power sector has put the ill-fated sector in the eye of the storm, with its activities now placed under strict public scrutiny.
Lending their analytical views on evolving activities in critical sectors of the Nigerian economy, such as the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) contract scan, pundits are of the view that the content of Senator Melaye’s motion should not be swept under the carpet.
A Port Harcourt-based lawyer, Barr Barivule Kpobe, who commented on the alleged power sector fraud as revealed by Melaye, said Nigeria power policies over the years have been a mirage.
According to him, “the more you look, the less you see paxiom best portrays the trend of activities in the power sector”.
“The Nigeria power sector has gulped billions of tax payers’ money but various attempts to fix the sector have slipped into institutional fraud and apparent misappropriation of funds”.
A public affairs analyst and Environmental sociologist, Dr Steve Wodu also expressed disappointment over the management of the Nigeria power sector and its attendant embarrassment on the psyche of Nigerians.
Speaking with The Tide in an interview the senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology, University of Port Harcourt, said the rot in the power sector was a reflection of the “tactical institutional failure in the country”.
Wodu noted that Melaye’s revelation was not the first time that such fraud was unearthed in the power sector, noting that the Nigeria power sector has been prone to mismanagement of funds over the years.
According to the university don, the lack of sustainable power supply in the country was the fallout of such institutional mess.
Wodu also picked holes in the anti-corruption campaign of the Federal Government.
He observed that the anti-corruption drag-net is yet to catch up with some people with obvious corruption stains who still move around with impunity.
“The Federal Government should be proactive in its anti-corruption campaign and ensure that the law takes its full toll on any one found to be corrupt, this will make the people to build confidence in the anti-corruption campaign,” he said.
In his view, an expert in renewable energy as alternative source of power supply, Elder Elkanah Hanson faulted Nigeria power policies, describing it as one of the most enduring “colonial legacies” in the country.
Speaking at a public function in Port Harcourt, recently, Hanson said the fraud in the power sector was as a result of unrealistic power policies which Nigeria inherited from the colonial masters without due consideration for the peculiar power demand of the country.
Elder Hanson called for total scrapping of Nigeria’s electricity laws and a paradigm shift to renewable energy as the source of power in the country.
According to him “a renewable energy is more convenient and cheaper to generate. Nigeria has the capacity to generate enough power supply for the entire country through renewable energy, we have to follow the global trend as we cannot orbit independently of the world”.
The expert also called for a total overhaul of the power sector with experts and technocrats taking the centre stage, and decried the present practice in the sector where participation in the sector is driven by political considerations and not expertise and service delivery.
On Melaye’s revelation, he called for the prosecution of all those linked with the scandal no matter how highly placed. In his postulation, a mechanical engineer, Festus Tor, said Nigeria’s economic woe was as a result of the failure of the power sector.
While commending the Federal Government over its efforts in reforming the power sector, he called on the Senate to carry out a thorough investigation on the alleged mismanagement of fund meant for the actualisation of the Nigeria Integrated Power Project (NIPP).
Tor also urged the government to encourage local technocrats and entrepreneurs through the provision of incentives to foster a more home driven and efficient power policy.
“Nigeria is a very big economy, and the only way we can compete with the rest of the world is through sustainable power supply. Nigeria technocrats should be encouraged to play key roles in policy formulation and implementation in the power sector”.
Tor also called for the review of the Nigeria power sector with proper involvement of states in the generation, transmission, and distribution of power.
An analyst, Mr Fidelis Nwiyor, who also spoke on the issue, commended Senator Melaye and the Senate in general over their move to investigate the management of the $1 billion Eurobond by the ministry of power.
He said the recent probe of the power sector by the Senate will test the strength and commitment of the National Assembly towards checkmating the appropriation and disbursement of public fund.
However, some analysts are also skeptical over the fact that Melaye’s motion might as well be another antic of the Senate to continue their intermittent feud with the executive.
Motorists Want NNPC Mega Filling Station In Bori
Motorists plying the Ogoni axis in Rivers State have urged the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, (NNPC) and the Department of Petroleum Resources, (DPR) to make real their promise of establishing at least one of the mega filling stations in Bori, headquarters of Khana Local Government Area to give the people access to the facility.
Some of the motorists and residents of Bori who spoke with The Tide said the absence of the NNPC filling station in Bori has made them to continue to suffer exploitation in the hands of private filling station owners who inflates their prices at will.
A commercial motorist, Mr Paul Ndeemua who spoke with our reporters said motorists plying the Bori route were excited when they heared of plans by government to build a mega filling station in Bori, but they were surprised that there was no trace of the project in Bori long after the plan was made public through the media chat.
He said: “ We commercial motorists operating within the Bori axis were happy when we learnt sometime ago that the government was going to build mega filling station in Bori like other parts of the state were they are located, but it’s unfortunate that almost three years after the plan was announced, nothing has happened. I want to use this opportunity to call on the NNPC and the DPR to fulfill their promise by building the filling station in Bori. The project will go a long way to help commercial motorists in the area, especially in terms of access to products.”
Another commercial motorist, Mr Akanimo Udosen who spoke with The Tide also decried the conspicuous absence of the NNPC Mega Filling Station in Bori despite its location in other places.
Resident of Bori also called on the Government to build a mega filling station in Bori to serve the people of the area. Apart from assess to petroleum products, the student said the project will also give a face lift to Bori.
He called on the Rivers State Government and stakeholders in ogoni to address the rising challenges of insecurity in Khana LGA to attract investment in the area.
PPPRA To Audit Infrastructure In Downstream Oil Sector
The Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) says it will commence a comprehensive audit and survey of downstream oil and gas logistic facilities in the country.
Mr Abdulkadir Saidu, PPPRA executive secretary, disclosed this in a statement issued in Abuja last Saturday.
He said that the state of infrastructure in the downstream of the Nigerian oil and gas sector largely was a reflection of profitability and proficiency of the market.
He added that the aim of the audit was to assess the state, adequacy and identify the infrastructure gap in the sector.
“ The PPPRA recognises that the state of infrastructure in the downstream requires constant assessment to ensure uninterrupted supply of products in addition to providing up to date data for operation in the sector.
“Oil and gas processing, storage and distribution facilities, jetties downstream and pipelines, retail outlets for oil and Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) will be the focus of the survey.
“ The audit also aimed at assessing the impact of government policy and regulation on the sector’s operating environment and viability, with a view to addressing identified loopholes,” he said
According to him, the exercise, which is expected to commence in the second half of 2019, is a long awaited exercise by operators and other stakeholders.
He noted that the outcome of the exercise would contribute to policy formulation and impact investment decision-making by investors.
Saidu said that the management of the PPPRA would champion the exercise, noting that it was in furtherance of the reform programme of Mr President in the oil sector.
“All oil and gas depot owners, marketers, retail outlets and LPG plant owners are stakeholders in this exercise.
“The ultimate objective of which is to enhance the commercial viability of the sector and improve its level of attractiveness as investment capital destination of choice for would-be investors.
“We therefore wish to solicit the cooperation and support of all stakeholders in ensuring its success,” he said.
NNPC, NOSDRA Move To Check Oil Spills
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) say they would partner to check the incidences of oil spill across the country.
Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Malam Mele Kyari made this known when he received the Director-General of NOSDRA, Mr Idris Musa at the NNPC Towers in Abuja on Wednesday.
In a statement signed by Mr Ndu Ughamadu, the spokesman for the corporation, Kyari said that as a national oil company, the NNPC pipelines, flow stations and assets across the country were jointly owned by the federation.
He maintained that the corporation produces crude oil to maintain a balance sheet for the nation.
“We have taken a number of steps to stem oil spill by deploying technology in order to make sure that whenever there is an oil spill incidence, it is contained almost immediately.
“We contain the incidences of oil theft, pipeline vandalism and acts of saboteurs and we intend to bring it to the barest minimum,” he said.
Kyari noted that the NNPC operated both crude oil and petroleum products pipelines, adding that the corporation was collaborating with its partners to curb incidences of oil spill in its areas of operations.
He said the corporation would also forge closer ties with NOSDRA to proactively forestall oil spill in areas that were prone to incessant incidences.
Earlier, Musa said the agency was prepared to partner the NNPC in mitigating oil spill in all areas of its operations.
He added that the partnership would ensure a good operating environment for the operators and the communities.
He added that breaking of petroleum products pipelines did not provide food, water and good environment for the people.
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