The Honourable Minister for Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fasola has refuted the allegations of financial misappropriation leveled against him by the Nigerian Senate.
Recall that the Senator representing Kogi West, Dino Melaye had last week asked his colleagues in the upper legislative chamber to look into the alleged “monumental fraud” in the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing under the leadership Babatunde Fashola. The senator had claimed that the Ministry lavished $385 million on projects not appropriated in the budget between 2013 and 2016. He also said that $300 million of the fund was given to IBEX while another $35 million was paid to General Electric and some others under circumstances that appear shady.
However, in a statement titled “Before Perception Becomes Reality”, signed by Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the minister, Mr. Hakeem Bello, the minister said he felt compelled to make this statement in response to allegations which he considers personal insult to his person.
“With all emphasis, I state that there is no factual basis for the allegations”, he said, adding that the ministry, my staff and I have done nothing wrong and we will collaborate fully with the Investigating Committee when called upon”, he said
He also argued that it was important for members of the public to note that he wasn’t a Minister in 2013, and that when Government raises a Debt like the Eurobond, it is the Debt Management Office that manages the Debt and not the Ministry.
“The Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) had on Monday, 6th November 2017 issued a Statement on the Front Page of The Nation Newspaper explaining that the money was not missing, stating also that the $350 million had been invested and that interest had even accrued on the money”, he said.
He noted that if there was no ulterior motive for the allegation, the explanation provided by Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) was enough reason for a reconsideration of the presentation of the Motion on the Floor of the Senate on the 8th of November 2017.
“As for the Afam Fast Power, the sum and substance of it is that , it was an investment by the General Electric, a globally reputed Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), to invest in our country and support our effort to get good quick power under our Roadmap of Incremental, Steady and Uninterrupted power.
“They offered to do this by providing Nigeria with mobile turbines of 600MW if we could find a location with Gas and Transmission evacuation infrastructure. The Afam Power Station fitted because it had transmission and evacuation facilities but all its turbines had been virtually run down.
“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 $27.9m was made without breaching any law”, the minister said.
He explained that the turbines have arrived Nigeria and currently at the Onne Port. “This is verifiable just as works are on going on the site – civil and engineering – preparing to receive the turbines, and install other equipment already at site.
“All of these are verifiable by all well meaning Nigerians who may want to undertake the inspection. We expect that the project will be commissioned soon enough to add 240MW to the Grid”, he said.
“Investors to the best of my knowledge do not require Parliamentary approval to invest in our Country. All of these facts could have been easily verifiable by a simple letter from the Senator to the Ministry without the furore and suggestions of wrong doing and malfeasance.
“We must be careful about what we say and do with regards to investments and investors which we clearly need in all sectors of our developmental life and in particular in infrastructure and power.
“Unverified allegations such as the ones under discussion constitute an imminent threat to our investment climate. For the avoidance of doubt, there has been no wrong doing whatsoever”, he said.