The Senate has expressed concern over the failure of the Federal Government to allocate any money for the construction of the $5.8 billion Mambilla Hydro Power project in Taraba State.
15 percent of the funding for the 3,050MW of power project is to be provided by the Nigerian government while the balance 85 percent will be financed by the Chinese NEXIM Bank.
Speaking during a budget defence by the Minister of Power, Engr Mamman Sale, members of the Senate Committee on Power expressed disappointment at the lack of seriousness displayed by the government over the project.
Sen. Shuaibu Lau, (PDP, Taraba), in his presentation, said the project may not see the light of the day, given the absence of commitment on the project by the ministry.
He said that his assessment of the Mambila project site indicates that there is no commitment on the part of the ministry to begin execution of the project.
“There is no road to Mambila. You can’t take any equipment to Mambila at the moment, there is no road to transport personnel to the place, so how will the project take off?.
“There is a court case that has not been settled and the Chinese company cannot come with the court case still on.
“We are just going round on one particular project for more then 20 years. We must be sincere with ourselves and tell ourselves the truth about the project.
“Let us plan something and do the project accordingly as planned.”
Sen. James Manager, (PDP-Delta) said that several power experts had noted that the Mambila project, if completed, will help salvage the power deficit in the country.
He, however, noted that no seriousness on execution of the project has been shown by the ministry from discussions so far.
Manager said he had thought that the minister would be desirous of completing the project, given the life time opportunity of being minister from that region.
He said that the project should have been a priority of the ministry before the Senate Committee on Power.
Responding, the Minister of Power, Mamman Sale, said that since he assumed office, he had been doing his best to kick start the Mambila power project.
He, however, shocked the Senate Committee when he disclosed that prior to his assumption of office, there was nothing like Mambila project.
“I am doing my best and I will continue to do my best. The counterpart funding that we had is 200 million dollars.
“This money had been there, and I have been pressing for the release, so that we can move to site and start work.
“It is with this money that we can clear the place, do the roads, do site clearance and begin the ground breaking.
“This will show the whole world that we are ready, and that is when any investors that are ready to come will invest, that is what the Chinese are waiting for.”