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FG not sincere about $5.8bn  Mambilla power plant project – Senators 

Sincerity of Federal Government in executing the Mambilla Hydroelectric Power Station project was on Monday doubted as some senators concluded that the project may after all not see the light of the day.
The senators foresaw a gloomy future for the nation’s power sector as they claimed there was nothing on ground to suggest that government is ready to add about 1,500 megawatts to the national electricity grid through the Mambilla project.
Senators Shuaibu Lau and Yusuf Yusuf both representing Taraba state, Sen. Danjuma Goje representing Gombe as well as the Senate minority leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, all faulted the ‘unseriousness’ of the Federal Government in handling the project.
They as well gave the Power Minister, Engr. Mamman Saleh, a difficult task in defending the project at the opening of 2021 budget defence by agencies under the Federal Ministry of Power before the Senate Committee on Power.
Sen.Lau said “Mambilla power project at not see the light of the day because there is no commitment on the part of the Federal Government.
The Taraba senator expressed worries that Nigeria has been going round for over 20 years on a particular project.
“As we speak, there is no access road to the Mambilla plateau. There are court cases on the land and the Chinese financier cannot move in funds and equipment when there is litigation”, said Lau.
Sen. Danjuma Goje said “why are we like this in this country. There is no way the Chinese contractor will make any move because there is no seriousness on the part of government”.
Sen. James Manager charged the Power Minister that being an indigene of Taraba state, he has the obligation of ensuring that he compelled Federal Government to provide the 15 percent counterpart funding for the project.
“Honourable Minister, you have the opportunity today to ensure the implementation of this project, you may not have this tomorrow”, Manager told the Minister.
Sen. Lau queried why the Ministry failed to make budgetary provision for the Mambilla project in the 2021.
In an attempt to defend his commitment and Federal Government desire to execute the project, the Minister said it would be unfair to say the project has been abandoned.
Engr. Saleh said tackled Sen. Lau. He said he was shocked by the senator’s expression. He added that Lau should be the last person to have make  such negative comments.
He told the committee that N200bn already earmarked by Federal Government would be used in building road to the project site at Kakara village, site clearing and ground breaking, to pave way for investors to take over the project.
“There was nothing on ground when I came. I tried my best to secure the  land and we must make sure the project start as soon as possible”, said the minister.
In response to the 2021 appropriation, the Minister said provisions could still made for the project through synergy between the legislature and the ministry.
But, the minority leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe told the Minister not to reduce the workings of the parliament to what goes on in Taraba state.
Abaribe told the Minister that he was shocked to learn that the capacity of the project has been reduced from 3,050 megawatts to just 1,500 megawatts while the cost of contract was not reduced.
Committee chairman, Sen Gabriel Suswam told the Minister not to see Sen. Lau as his enemy or government detractor.
Suswam said “both Senators Lau and Yusuf who are from Taraba state are frustrated by the handling of the project.
The Benue senator said “the $200m earmarked by the Federal Government which is presently with the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) while the Chinese financier will provide the 85 percent.
“Sen. Lau’s comments is based on frustration he experienced”.
The Mambilla Hydroelectric Power Station is a 3,050 Hydroelectric power project which after completion will be the largest power generating installation in the country.
To finance the project, Chinese Export Import (EXIM) Bank is finding 85% of the project cost, while the remaining 15% funding will come from the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for the project was awarded to a joint venture between China Gezhouba Group (CGGC), Sinohydro and CGCOC in November 2017.
The US $5.8bn project is expected to commence operation in 2030 and will generate about 50,000 jobs during completion process.