Abubakar Aliyu, the minister of power, on Tuesday, November 2, 2021, appeared before the Senate Committee on Power, Chaired by Senator Gabriel Suswan for the 2022 budget defence.
There was, however, a dramatic twist as the Minister couldn’t sufficiently explain the sum of N42 billion proposed for the Zungeru Power Plant project which was tagged new when the sum of N25 billion was already budgeted for the same project in 2021.
Enyinnaya Abaribe, a member of the Committee and Senate Minority leader, picked holes in the document, questioning how a project which already gulped N25 billion was tagged new for another N42 billion to be expended in 2022.
Abaribe’s observation triggered concerns from other members who became suspicious, given that the sum of N25 billion was allocated for the same project in 2021.
Senators recalled that the said sum generated controversy between members of the House of Representatives and Senators who described the amount as outrageous at that time.
Abaribe said, ”Mr Minister, why an ongoing project should be tagged new, questioning if the term “new” refers to a new loan for the project or new Zungeru project which has been increased to N43 billion in the ministry’s 2022 budget.
The Minister while responding, however, regretted the word “new”, and said, it was a typographical error.
He explained that the multilateral loans are handled by the Ministry of Finance but confirmed that the project as captured in the proposed budget wasn’t new.
The minister thereafter referred the question to the Head, Energy Resources of the Ministry, who in turn affirmed that the project was provided for by the ministry of finance for loan arrangements.
Gabriel Suswam, the chairman of the committee, said the loans collected are being paid back with no projects on the ground, to show what the loans were tied to.
He asked the minister to go back and get all necessary details on the said amount and send updated copies to the Committee.
The Minister told the Committee that the Ministry’s 2022 budgetary allocation is N301 billion out of which N294 billion is for capital.