Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru and officials of Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), on Monday, failed to appear before a joint Senate committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy, and Gas.
The officials were summoned to appear before the joint committee, investigating ‘The urgent need to save the 215 megawatt Kaduna Power Plant’.
While Fashola sent the Permanent Secretary in charge of Power, Mr. Frank Edozie, GMD of NNPC, Baru, did not send any representative to stand in for him at the investigative hearing.
Interim Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of TCN, Usman Gur Mohammed, sent an assistant manager as his representative.
The committee chairman on Power, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, who expressed his displeasure over the non-appearance of Fashola and other government officials invited, threatened that appropriate actions will be taken.
“Fashola did not call me. He did not send a letter to inform this committee that he will not be around. If he feels that attending to other things is more important than the Senate and Nigerians, I wish him well. But the Senate is bigger than anybody.
“As a committee, we will take an appropriate action against those we invited and refused to turn up. They are taking Nigerians and the Senate for granted and we will not take this,” Abaribe said.
Abaribe’s co-chairman, Bassey Akpan, who heads Gas committee, insisted that Fashola must be compelled to appear before the committee at another date to explain the role he played, regarding the botched gas supply to the power station, located in Kaduna State.
“Fellow Senators, I will suggest that we invite Fashola at another date. He is not bigger than the Senate. He must appear before this Senate. We have to fix another date for Fashola to appear. He must appear before this committee. He is not bigger than us,” Akpan said.
The committee is investigating why the Ministry reverted to the use of diesel to power the 215 megawatt Kaduna power plant, as against the original master plan to use gas.
The committee said the use of diesel, which is also referred to as Automotive Gas Oil (AGO), is 60 per cent higher than gas, approved for the power plant.
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The committee is also investigating why the Ministry flouted its resolution to stay action on the contract, pending the conclusion of the investigation.
Abaribe said: “Given that the cost of AGO is 60 per cent higher than gas usage, it is also not environmentally friendly and not in line with the United Nations Charter on Green Energy and Climate Change.
“Another issue we are faced with is the lack of gas pipelines from the southern to northern part of the country which on its own has hindered the generation capacity of the Kaduna Power Plant.
“As we are aware, the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the NNPC, is on the verge of awarding contract for construction of 40 inch 614km Ajaokuta-Abuja-Kaduna-Kano gas pipeline project. As such, we should be guided accordingly.
“This joint investigative hearing, I believe, would be able to set the records straight and also chart the way forward for this project that will eventually provide better power supply to northern states.”
Reacting, Edozie, who stood in for Fashola, said the use of AGO is a temporal measure. He insisted that the original master plan to use gas to power the plant was still intact.
By Ehisuan Odia…
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