14 January 2019, Sweetcrude, Lagos — Minister of Power, Works, and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has said the federal government did not make any budget of N219 billion for the Mambila project.
In a statement issued on Monday by the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, Fashola said it became imperative to make clarifications due to what it described as “spurious and unfounded allegations” of a businessman, Mr. Leno Adesanya with regards to the ongoing Mambilla Power Project.
Mr. Adesanya had in an expose published in Sahara Reporters a few days ago, alleged that Fashola wanted to divert N219 billion from the 3050MW hydropower project to his pet project.
“I wonder why you would not tell Nigerians that loan negotiations with China Eximbank have stalled since 2017 because of your attempt to divert about $600 million from the 3050MW hydropower project to a pet project not hitherto considered by the FEC, and the Chinese Contractors, and Eximbank are insisting on full compliance with the terms of the EPC signed in November 2017. It was in anticipation of your covert operations to subvert the 3050MW power project, that I wrote my initial petition to His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR 20 months ago; about your attempts to frustrate the 3050MW Mambilla hydropower project.” Mr. Adesanya had written.
However, in response, the minister said the writeup was “to damage good name and reputation of the Minister to claim undue credit and attract unwarranted attention and sympathy”.
“Nothing is further away from the truth than the claim that the loan negotiations have stalled since 2017 because of an attempt to utilize $600 Million (the equivalent of N219 Billion) from the 3,050MW hydropower project for a “pet project” not hitherto considered by the Federal Executive Council”.
“There is currently no budgetary provision or cash provision of $600 million or the N219 Billion in any budget of the Federal Government for the Mambila Project”.
“Therefore, you cannot attempt to divert what does not exist”.
For the avoidance of doubt, Fashola explained that the China Exim Bank disburse money to specific projects and on the conclusion of negotiations, the loan will be devoted to the construction of the Mambila Power Project, which has been on the drawing board for close to 40 years before the advent of the Buhari administration which is now working assiduously to get the project off the ground.
“The latest publication of fictional claims by Mr. Leno Adesanya in a national daily and the social media is the desperate attempt by him and his political sympathisers to destabilize a project that they could not bring to fruition”.
“The antics of Leno Adesanya and his ilk would readily explain why the project has taken so many years without lift-off”.
According to the statement, Fashola said since Mr. Adesanya had chosen to go to court, he would be required to prove his “baseless allegation in court”.
“The Federal Executive Council which is the highest decision making organ of the Executive Arm of Government never awarded a contract for the project to Mr. Adesanya”.
“The allegation with regard to stalling the Mambilla project is untrue, baseless and a figment of Adesanya’s imagination. The events and relevant facts will show that because Mr. Fashola first presented a memo on the Mambilla Power Project to the Federal Executive Council in August 2017; which was the first ever Federal Executive Council approval given to the Mambilla project in favour of a Chinese Joint venture”.
“The Minister has also accompanied the President twice to China on trips that had the project as one of the headline agenda. The Hon. Minister in June 2018 attended, alongside officials of the Ministry of Finance, a meeting of the China Exim Bank to negotiate the terms of the loan for the project further”.
“And only this week, after the Federal Executive Council meeting, he briefed Nigerians about the approval of contracts for surveyors to demarcate the areas for the project. These are the first contracts to start preparatory work on the project after 40 years delay”.
These actions, Fashola said are not consistent with delay falsely being alleged against the Minister by Mr. Adesanya.
“Indeed, available evidence does not support the claims of Leno Adesanya and well-meaning Nigerians will be well advised to ignore him”.
“We hereby state, that no amount of negative effort to distract, intimidate or threaten the Hon. Minister in the performance of his duties in line with the pledge of the present Government to the Nigerian people on the provision of adequate infrastructure in all relevant sectors of the economy will succeed”, the statement read.