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Senate probes stalled $5.792bn Mambilla Power Project

Senate throws out bill to establish road transport council

The Nigerian Senate has initiated an investigation into the Mambilla Hydroelectric Power Project (MHEPP) transactions spanning from 1999 to the present.

This resolution follows a motion sponsored by  Manu Haruna, Senator representing Taraba Central, and other northern lawmakers on the motion on ” the urgent need to overcome challenges hindering the commencement of the Mambilla Hydroelectric Power Project” on Thursday.

In 2017, the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Power, signed a $5.792 billion contract with a consortium of Chinese contractors to construct a 3050 MW hydroelectric power project in Taraba State.

The Buhari administration’s Federal Executive Council approved the contract with a joint venture funding structure: 85% from the Chinese consortium and 15% from the Nigerian Federal Government, with a projected construction period of 72 months.

Haruna decried the project’s stalled progress despite decades of effort and its potential benefits. He highlighted its capacity to generate 3050 MW, its strategic importance to the Ajaokuta Steel Complex, and its ability to create over 55,000 jobs, construct resettlement homes for over 100,000 people, and utilize significant local resources.

Contributing to the debate, Danjuma Goje from Gombe Central, and a former governor and Minister of State for Power and Steel, recalled the project’s inception in 1999 under former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Goje detailed the numerous delays due to environmental impact assessments, legal frameworks, and other issues.

Ahmed Lawan, the former Senate President also cited legal challenges as a significant impediment. He recounted his intervention during his tenure, which revealed extensive legal disputes involving the company Sunrise, which had claimed billions of dollars from the federal government.

Although a $200 million settlement was negotiated, unresolved legal entanglements persisted, stalling the project further, he said.

Sani Musa, the Senator representing Niger East provided additional context, noting the project’s initial agreement in 2007 and subsequent legal disputes.

He mentioned that the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) was mandated to source funding, but recent shifts in administration have led to a recommendation to transfer responsibilities to the Greener Hope Infrastructure Fund for expedited progress.

Jibrin deputy senate president put the motion to a vote, after an extensive debate which received majority support.

Consequently, the Senate resolved to establish an ad-hoc committee to investigate the project and urged President Bola Tinubu to prioritize the MHEPP as a legacy project.