The Senate on Wednesday ordered its Energy Committee to investigate the conditions and circumstances under which the concession is being awarded for the 700-megawatt Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Plant, ZHPP in Niger State.
The investigation also relates to the use of the project’s annual budget allocations, level of completion and management of external loans from China’s Exim Bank, which is associated with the project.
The committee should also consider the fate of the precarious host communities where the project is located, the adequacy or otherwise of the selection criteria for the concessionaire and determine whether ZHPP’s proposed concession is an exercise that will ensure that the government gets the value it owes for the money spent on the project.
Similarly, the Supreme Legislative Council urged the National Privatization Council, the National Congress Party and its secretariat, the Bureau of Public Enterprises, the BPE and other relevant ministries, departments and agencies to suspend the proposed concession indefinitely, pending completion of investigations by it. Committee and its approval based on the findings and recommendations.
These resolutions were complementary to a motion on “the need for Senate intervention in the ongoing concession bid for the Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Plant in Niger State” sponsored by Senators Gabriel Soswam (PDP Benue North East) and Yahaya Abdullahi (PDP Kebbi North) during plenary session.
Senator Abdullahi, who is leading the debate on the proposal, said the 700MW ZHPP, which is the second largest hydropower plant in Nigeria after the Kainji hydropower plant, also in Niger state, “was originally awarded in 2013 for $1.3 billion. “
He noted that apart from the huge loan taken by the Federal Government from China’s Exim Bank to finance the construction of the ZHPP, the National Assembly had approved billions of naira annually through its budget appropriation powers in order to complete the project.
Specifically, the former Senate leader revealed that “more than N43 billion has been allocated to the ZHPP under the Appropriations Act 2022 and the Executive is proposing another N76.5 billion in the 2023 budget.”
According to him, the project was expected to be completed within 60 months from the date of the contract implementation in 2013, indicating that several factors threatened the rapid completion of the project.
He further stated that “the NCP and the BPE, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Power, complied with the provisions of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, the International Committee of the Red Cross, invited interested investors to participate in a two-stage process that would lead to the selection of a concessionaire who would operate and maintain And managing ZHPP for at least 30 years.
Senator Abdullah added that the Qualification Application Call, RFQ, was released to the media on October 27, 2022, while a roadshow was also held to raise awareness of the exercise.
Senators Sani Musa (APC Niger East), Sadiq Umar (APC Kwara North), Jibrin Barau (APC Kano North) and Yusuf A. Contributed to the government and when the project was not yet completed, thus kicking against the proposed concession.
In his remarks, Senate Speaker Dr. Ahmed Lawan announced that the Supreme Legislative Council does not support the concession, warning that “if anyone approves it, we will cancel it because the Senate is totally against it. Therefore, NCP and BPE should suspend it.”
He questioned why franchising or privatization always happened in the power sector, despite the expenditure of billions of naira by the Federal Government.
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