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No N219b Budget Provision For Mambila Power, Says Fashola

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There is no cash provision of $600 million or N219 billion in any budget of the Federal Government for the Mambila Project, Minister of Power, Works and Housing Babatunde Fashola has said.

A statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Hakeem Bello, yesterday insisted that nobody could attempt to divert what did not exist.

“Nothing is more further away from the truth than the claim that the loan negotiations have stalled since 2017 because of an attempt to utilise $600 million (equivalent of N219 billion) from the 3,050 Megawatts (MW) hydropower project for a ‘pet project’ not hitherto considered by the Federal Executive Council (FEC),” Fashola said.

The statement was reacting to allegations by Chairman of Sunrise Power Transmission Limited Leno Adesanya over the ongoing Mambilla Power Project.

Adesanya, in November 2018, wrote an open letter to President Muhammad Buhari, where he said he had sued government to court over the project.

He said he was sidelined from the contract signing in 2017, after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved it and Fashola signed with two Chinese firms, leaving out the acclaimed local partner – Sunrise Power.

But, denying the allegation, the statement said: “It has, therefore, become necessary to debunk the lies and resist the unjustified and malicious attack on the person of the minister and save the innocent members of the public from the rather misleading and offensive publication widely circulating in various media platforms, authored and sponsored by Mr. Adesanya to damage good name and reputation of the minister to claim undue credit and attract unwarranted attention and sympathy.”

Fashola explained that for the avoidance of doubt, the China Exim Bank disburse money to specific projects and on conclusion of negotiations, the loan would be devoted to the construction of the Mambila Power Project, which has been on the drawing board for close to 40 years before the advent of the Buhari administration, which is now working to get the project off the ground.

The publication of the claims by Adesanya in a national daily and the social media, the statement said, was a desperate attempt by him and his political sympathisers to destabilise a project that they could not bring to fruition.

Fashola said since Adesanya had chosen to go to court, he would be required to prove his allegation.

The minister said the FEC never awarded a contract for the project to Adesanya.

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Inflation Rate Drops to 11.37 Per Cent in January, Says NBS

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The National Bureau of Statistics on Friday released the Consumer Price Index which measures inflation. The index dropped to 11.37 per cent in January 2019.

The bureau in the report said the 11.37 per cent inflation rate for January is 0.07 percentage points lower than the 11.44 per cent which the country recorded in December.

The report reads in part, “The consumer price index, which measures inflation increased by 11.37 per cent year-on-year in January 2019.

“This is 0.07 per cent points lower than the rate recorded in December 2018 (11.44 per cent).”

The report stated that on a month-on-month basis, the index increased by 0.74 per cent in January 2019, the same rate as was recorded in December 2018.

The report stated that urban inflation rate increased by 11.66 per cent year-on-year in January 2019 from 11.73 per cent recorded in December 2018.

It added that the rural inflation rate increased by 11.11 per cent in January 2019 from 11.18 per cent in December 2018.

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Buhari Hails Osinbajo For Role In Economic Recovery

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday commended the qualities and competence of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Buhari, specifically praise him for the role played on the ‘CHANGE AGENDA’ and his capacity as the head of the National Economic Council (NEC) in the past three and half years.

He gave the commendation during a meeting with Ogun State traditional rulers, led by Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo.

The President was responding to the Vice President’s presentation at the meeting on the economic outlook in the country in the last three and half years and how the APC-led administration has done more with fewer resources.

The President said: “Him (Osinbajo) being the Chairman of NEC is in a very strong position to know what we are earning and what we are doing with the earnings.

‘‘I am very pleased with his vast experience and intellect. He has captured effectively what the administration has done and I commend him for playing a very great part in that. Thank you, Mr Vice President.’’

The President told the traditional rulers that in all the States he had visited so far for his re-election bid, he had taken time to explain to Nigerians the achievements, programmes and future plans of his government in the three key areas of economy, security and anti-corruption.

‘‘On the promises on security, I have mentioned repeatedly that the people of the North East appreciate our undertakings because you cannot manage a country unless it is secure. We have succeeded in that and we thank God,’’ he said.

The President noted that Nigeria has attained food security under his watch, adding that many farmers have testified that fertilisers are now available and affordable.

‘‘Fighting corruption is the most difficult under our system but still, we have not given up. We are steadfast in our determination to ensure that those who abuse trust are brought before the law and punished,’’ he said.

President Buhari appealed to the traditional rulers to prevail on their subjects to be law abiding and show respect to constituted authority during and after the elections.

‘‘I am happy for what you have done on voter education so that your people can choose whoever they like from whatever party,’’ he said.

In his remarks, Oba Gbadebo assured the President that Ogun people will give him more than 60 percent of the votes in the State to guarantee his re-election and that of their son, the Vice President, on February 16.

He hinged Ogun people’s support for President Buhari on his commitment to the welfare of the masses, reflected in the array of well-conceived, executed and various ongoing projects that abound all over the country.

The Oba announced that Ogun State has been a major beneficiary of Federal Government projects, listing the Lagos-Ibadan expressway that passes through 80 percent of the State, Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge fast train, the latest technology in train movement the world over, among others.

‘‘It was my privilege to have been part of the passengers on the trial run on the Lagos-Abeokuta stretch of the rail on Friday, February 8, 2019. Generations unborn will continue to thank your Administration for taking the bull by the horns,’’ Oba Gbadebo said.

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SERAP Asks Court to Compel Fashola to Name Contractors Who Disappeared With Project Money

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sued the Minister of Power, Works and Housing Mr Babatunde Fashola SAN over “failure to disclose specific names and details of contractors and companies that allegedly collected money for electricity projects but failed to execute any projects, starting from the return of democracy in 1999 to 2018.”

In the suit number FHC/L/CS/105/19 filed last week at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, SERAP is seeking “an order for leave to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus directing and/or compelling Mr Fashola to provide specific details on the names and whereabouts of the contractors who collected public funds meant for electricity projects but disappeared with the money without executing any projects.”

The suit followed SERAP’s Freedom of Information request dated 4 January, 2019 giving Mr Fashola 14 days to publish “the names of all contractors and companies that have been engaged in the power sector since the return of democracy in 1999 to date, details of specific projects and the amounts that have been paid to the contractors and companies, details on the level of implementation of electricity projects and their specific locations across the country.”

The organization said: “publishing the names will make it hard for contractors and companies to get away with complicity in grand corruption. The citizens have the right to see that the Freedom of Information Act is enforced where there is an infraction of the right to information or a threat of its being violated, in matters of public interests.”

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its counsel, Adelanke Aremo read in part:“by compelling Mr Fashola to name the contractors and their registration details, if any, Nigerians will be better able to hold them to account for allegedly absconding with public funds meant for electricity projects, thereby throwing the country into perpetual darkness and socio-economic stagnation as well as denying people their human rights.”

“Granting the order as prayed would ensure that allegations of complicity in grand corruption by contractors and companies in the power sector do not go unpunished. Unless the names of the contractors and companies are disclosed and widely published, alleged corrupt contractors and companies executing electricity projects will not be deterred and the victims of corruption that they committed will continue to be denied justice and effective remedies.”

“To date no contractors or companies who allegedly collected money for electricity projects not executed or poorly executed have been investigated for corruption let alone prosecuted and fined. Senior public officials who apparently served as intermediaries for these contractors and companies continue to escape justice.”

“The allegations of corruption involving many contractors and companies in the power sector have continued to impair, obstruct and undermine the ability of successive governments to provide Nigerians with access to regular and uninterrupted electricity supply. Contractors and companies that allegedly disappeared with public funds meant for electricity projects may also be liable for aiding and abetting the commission of acts of grand corruption.”

The suit is seeking the following reliefs:

  1. AN ORDER directing and/or compelling the Respondent to compile and make available to the Applicant documents containing the specific names and details of contractors and companies that have been engaged in the power sector since the return of democracy in 1999 to date, details, of specific projects and the amounts that have been paid to the contracts and companies, details on the level of implementation of electricity projects and their specific locations across the country and to publish widely including on a dedicated website, any such information
  2. AN ORDER directing and/or compelling the Respondent to compile and make available to the Applicant documents and information containing the specific names and details of contractors and companies that allegedly collected money for electricity projects but failed to execute any projects, starting from the return of democracy in 1999 to 2018 and to publish widely including on a dedicated website, any such information
  3. AN ORDER directing and/or compelling the Respondent to disclose if there is any ongoing investigation or prosecution of allegedly corrupt contractors and companies in the electricity sector
  4. A DECLARATION that the failure of the Respondent to provide the Applicant with information containing the specific names and details of contractors and companies that have been engaged in the power sector since the return of democracy in 1999 to date, details, of specific projects and the amounts that have been paid to the contractors and companies, details on the level of implementation of electricity projects and their specific locations across the country, and failure to widely publish it on a dedicated website, any such information amounts to a fundamental breach of the Freedom of Information Act 2011
  5. A DECLARATION that the failure of the Respondent to provide the Applicant with specific documents and information containing the names and details of contractors and companies that allegedly collected money for electricity projects but failed to execute any of such projects, starting from the return of democracy in 1999 to 2018 and failure to widely publish it on a dedicated website, any of such information amounts to a breach of the Freedom of Information Act 2011
  6. A DECLARATION that the failure of the Respondent to disclose if there is any ongoing investigation or prosecution of allegedly corrupts contractors and companies in the electricity sector amounts to a breach of the Freedom of Information Act 2011
  7. AND for such further order or orders as the Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstance.

“Publishing the names of contractors will contribute to ending a pattern of corruption in the power sector and improve access of Nigerians to regular and uninterrupted electricity supply. It will also allow citizens to track the level of execution of electricity projects by contractors and companies and reduce impunity for corrupt acts in the sector.”

“Granting the reliefs sought will ensure that punitive and dissuasive measures are taken against corrupt contractors and companies, shareholders and others that might have any ownership interests in companies responsible for failed execution of power projects in the country.”

“Former Nigeria’s Vice President and Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar blew the whistle on Channels TV when he said, “We collected money from local, state and federal governments and others. Contractors were given some contracts and were paid hundred percent upfront. Up till now, we are not holding the contractors responsible. People have collected money upfront one hundred percent and have disappeared; and have not even done any work.”

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

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