By Taiye Odewale
The Senate yesterday accused the Ministry of Power and Housing of alleged attempt to divert the sum of N106.7 billion ($350 million) meant for Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), to execute a power project, which the National Assembly neither endorsed nor appropriated.
Against this background, the Senate directed its Committees on Power and Public Accounts to summon the Minister of Power Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, to appear before it to give detailed account on reason for the alleged diversion.
The $350 million in question is part of the $1 billion raised through Eurobond by the Federal Government in July 2013 and released to the Nigeria Electricity Bulk Trading Company( NBET) Plc as shareholder contribution to shore up its capitalization.
The Senate summoned Fashola on the alleged diversion of the money in question following its adoption of a motion moved by Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West), titled “Monumental Fraud in the Power Sector”
Against this background, the Senate also mandated its Committees on Power; Public Accounts; to investigate and consider summoning the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA); Nigerian Electricity Bulk Trading Company (NBET) etc, to establish the status of the $650million and to report to it within two (2) weeks.
He explained that NBET is a Federal Government owned public liability company which deals in electricity trading and management of associated liabilities; adding that the sum of $350million released to it was to demonstrate NBET’s preparedness to assume its role as a government backed electricity bulk trader to provide market confidence in the privatized electricity market.
He noted also that the $350 million was domiciled with the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) for reinvestment in low risk investment and structured in a manner that NBET can call for funds at short notice when required.
According to him, the fund has been with NSlA since 2014 and has helped build market confidence especially among new investors in the electricity market, stressing that the Ministry’s decision to mop up the fund was illegal.