By Abolaji Adebayo
The Minster of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has absolved the ministry of the alleged fraud and mismanagement in the appropriation of $350 million Eurobond fund deposited in the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) to fund its 240 megawatts (MW) Afam Fast Power project in Rivers State.
He described the claims as unverified and false that could constitute imminent threat to the country’s investment climate.
The Senate had alleged that the power ministry diverted $35 million to the Afam fast power project without the approval of the national assembly.
It also claimed that a sum of $350 million raised from a $1 billion Eurobond was spent by the ministry in 2013.
In the statement entitled “Before Perception Becomes Reality” on Friday in Abuja, Fashola said that the ministry was ready to provide full, factual and detailed response when formally invited by the Senate.
The minister explained that the Afam Fast Power project was an investment by United States firm, General Electric (GE) in Nigeria to support the federal government’s plans for the power sector.
He noted in the statement that the investment by GE was contingent on Nigeria paying $27.99 million which was 15 per cent of the cost of eight units of 30MW turbines each totaling 240MW and valued at about $186.6 million.
According to him, GE made the offer to Nigeria provided it was able to provide a site to host the mobile power system, as well as a guaranteed gas supply and power transmission route which Afam checked, hence, its hosting of the project.
Fashola also said that he was not The Minster of Power, Works and Housing in 2013.
Fashola, said the Senators did not consult his ministry for clarification of the development, adding that if they had, there wouldn’t have been need for the claims he said they made against him, the ministry and its staff.
He said, “Before perception becomes reality, I feel compelled to make this statement in response to allegations bordering on financial impropriety raised on the floor of the Senate against the ministry of power, works and housing, my office as minister, the staff of the ministry and by extension my person.
“The sum and substance of the allegations to which the ministry will provide full, factual and detailed response when formally invited are that: An amount in the region of $350 million being part of a $1 billion Eurobond facility taken in 2013 has gone missing or has been diverted; 2. That the ministry, had procured a contract for Afam Fast Power and paid $26 million or thereabout for it.”
On the fast power project, Fashola explained that the sum and substance of was an investment by the General Electric, a globally reputed Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), to invest in Nigeria and support government’s effort to get good quick power under the roadmap of incremental, steady and uninterrupted power.
He noted that the company offered to provide Nigeria with mobile turbines of 600MW at a conducive location with gas and transmission evacuation infrastructure.
“The investment was contingent on paying $27,990,000 million which was 15% of 8 (eight) units of 30MW turbines each totaling 240MW valued at about $186,600,000:00. This payment of $27.9 million was made without breaching any law.”
According to him, the turbines have arrived Nigeria and currently at the Onne Port for all concerned bodies to verify, adding that the project would be soon ready for commissioning to add 240MW to the grid.
He further noted this would be one of the fastest power projects when delivered, compared to inherited power projects before the present administration.
The minister, clarifying his stand further, stated that investors did not need parliamentary approval to invest in the country.
He concluded that all of these facts could have been easily verified by a simple letter from the Senator to the ministry without the furore and suggestions of wrong doing and malfeasance.