The Senate Committee on Power has querried the allocation of 20 power projects for Lau Local Government Area of Taraba State in the 2021 budget of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA).
The Minister of Power, Mamman Saleh, hails from Lau LGA.
The Committee on Wednesday expressed their dissatisfaction when the Managing Director of the agency, Ahmad Salijo appeared before it for budget defence.
Members of the panel identified 20 rural electrification projects of various sums, ranging between N20m to N52m in the 2021 budget proposal submitted to the National Assembly.
According to them, it was shocking that the record indicated that only one of the electrification projects for 2021 was proposed for the entire South-South geopolitical zone, which was proposed to be cited in Delta State.
The committee, headed by Senator Gabriel Suswam, also identified uniform allocation of N52m for various projects across the geopolitical zones.
A member of the committee from Taraba State, Senator Yusuf Yusuf, first drew the attention of his colleagues to the lopsidedness in the distribution of the projects.
According to Yusuf, the budget proposal was fraught with uneven distribution of mini-grid power projects for rural communities, alleging that many of them were concentrated in the minister’s LGA.
Yusuf said: “It is not just the N52m but if you look at from number 85, N30m, N20m, N40m and they are all concentrated in one Local Government Area.
“That is the minister’s LGA. Twenty projects are in Lau Local Government Area. I am not challenging him but I am sure.”
Also speaking, another member of the committee, Senator Bala Ibn Na’ Allah accused the minister of allegedly violating his oath of office if he approved the citing of the projects in his LGA.
Na’Alah said: “Those who elected us to these offices expected us to ensure that the constitution which they have made for themselves and given to us will be executed to the letter.
“The President wants to be the president of every citizen of the Federal Republic if Nigeria.
“Therefore, he would want loyalty and cooperation from every citizen of the country. If we sit down here and agree that a budget that pleases a minister, can come, he (Minister) is not doing himself good because he has sworn to do justice to all manner of the people and not to allow his personal interest to affect his official conduct and decision.
“He has by this clearly shown that he has allowed his personal interest to affect his official conduct and decision, and that is a very serious matter.
“Governance is a very serious issue I think you (MD) must take this observation, serious and convey it to the minister. Tell him that the committee is not in agreement with him.”
Other senators on the committee also alleged that the projects listed in their states were non-existence as they were neither aware of them nor the contractors handling the jobs.
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