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Senators kick against 20 power projects in Minister’s council

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By Sanni Onogu, Abuja

Members of the Senate Committee on Power on Thursday kicked against the alleged lopsidedness in the distribution of power projects by the Rural Electrification Agency (REA).

The lawmakers accused the Minister of Power, Mamman Sale, of allegedly siting 20 mini-grid power projects in his Local Government Area (LGA).

The Senators made the observation when the Managing Director of the REA, Ahmad Salijo, appeared before the Senate Committee on Power, chaired by Senator Gabriel Suswam, to defend the 2021 budget estimates of the agency.

They queried why only the Minister’s Local Government will have such huge amounts of projects when some other rural communities don’t have any.

A member of the Committee, Senator Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf (Taraba Central), had drawn the attention of his colleagues to the lopsidedness in the distribution of the mini grid power projects across the country.

He said the budget estimate of the REA was full of uneven distribution of mini-grid power projects for rural communities.

He alleged that most of the mini grid projects were concentrated in the Minister’s Local Government Area.

Read Also: Senators quiz minister over zero allocation to Mambilla power project in 2021 budget

Yusuf said: “It is not just the N52million but if you look at it from number 85, N30million, N20million, N40million and they are all concentrated in one Local Government.

“That is the Minister’s Local Government Area. 20 projects are in Lau Local Government Area. I am not challenging him but I am sure.”

Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah (Kebbi South), said such a development would amount to a breach of the Constitution if found to be true.

He said the Committee would not pass the REA budget with the anomaly as doing so would amount to a betrayal of the trust reposed in the Senate by Nigerians.

Na’Allah said: “If we sit down here and agree that a budget that pleases a Minister can come, he (Minister) is not doing himself any good because he has sworn to do justice to all manner of people and not to allow his personal interests to affect his official conduct and decision.

“He has by this, clearly shown that, he has allowed his personal interest to affect his official conduct and decision, and that is a very serious matter.

“Governance is a very serious issue. I think you (Managing Director of the REA) must take this observation serious and convey it to the Minister. Tell him that the committee is not in agreement with him.

“We will not sit down and sign this kind of document. We will be failing in our duties.

“We will be failing in the oath of office we have taken to uphold and protect the Constitution, if we allow this to go unchallenged.

“Please let him know, there is no sentiment on this matter. Let us all try as much as we can to operate within the elements of our Constitution we have given ourselves please.”

Suswam directed the Managing Director of the REA to go and correct the observed anomalies in the distribution of the mini grid power projects and to reappear before the panel on Monday.

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