How Obasanjo’s govt, others wasted N11trn on bogus power projects-SERAP
London, May 23, 2018 (AltAfrika)-Human rights advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, has released details of how successive administrations in Nigeria squandered a total of N11trn on bogus power projects between 1999 and 2015 without anything to show for it
The organisation has therefore advised President Muhammadu Buhari to refer the case to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The advice came on the heels of lamentation by Buhari on Tuesday that a former President (Olusegun Obasanjo) claimed to have spent $16bn on electricity without any result to show for it.
But SERAP, in a statement by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said apart from the $16bn, Buhari should also cause the alleged squandering of a total of N11trn in the power sector between 1999 and 2015 to be investigated.
According to the group, the said N11trn was squandered under ex-Presidents Obasanjo, the late Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan under the guise that the money was being spent to provide regular supply of electricity in the country.
SERAP said Buhari should be determined to ensure that anyone found culpable in the alleged fraud were prosecuted after investigation by the anti-graft agency.
It said, “We welcome the focus by President Buhari on the massive allegations of corruption and mismanagement in the power sector and urge him to expand his searchlight beyond the Obasanjo government by ensuring accountability and full recovery of the over N11trn squandered by the three administrations.
“It is only by pursuing all the allegations and taking the evidence before the court that the truth will be revealed and justice best served. This is the only way to conclusively address the systemic corruption in the power sector and an entrenched culture of impunity of perpetrators.
“Addressing impunity in the power sector should be total. This would help to improve the integrity of government and public confidence and trust in their government.
“It would also serve as a vehicle to further the public perception of fairness and thoroughness, and to avert any appearance of political considerations in the whole exercise.”
SERAP noted that lack of regular electricity supply in the country had occasioned many other problems, including lack of access to potable water.
The statement further read, “The total estimated financial loss to Nigeria from corruption in the electricity sector starting from the return to democracy in 1999 to date is over N11trn. This represents public funds, private equity and social investment (or divestments) in the power sector.
“It is estimated that this may reach over N20trn in the next decade, given the rate of government investment and funding in the power sector amidst dwindling fortune and recurrent revenue shortfalls.
“SERAP in 2016 sent a petition to the then acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Water Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen. Last year SERAP published a report, ‘From Darkness to Darkness: How Nigerians are Paying the Price for Corruption in the Electricity Sector’. The report showed how the country has lost more megawatts in the post-privatisation era due to corruption, impunity, among other social challenges reflected in the report.
“The report accuses Dr. Ransom Owan-led board of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission of allegedly settling officials with millions of naira as severance packages and for embarrassing them with alleged N3bn fraud.
“The authorities must undertake a thorough, impartial and transparent investigation as to the reasons why corruption charges were withdrawn, and to recover any corrupt funds.
“The report also called for the reopening and effective prosecution of corruption allegations, including the alleged looting of the benefits of families of the deceased employees of Power Holding Company of Nigeria levelled against a former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Power, Godknows Igali.
“The report shows how the Obasanjo’s administration spent $10bn on NIPP with no results in terms of increase in power generation. $13.278,937,409.94 was expended on the power sector in eight years while unfunded commitments amounted to $12bn. The Federal Government then budgeted a whopping N16bn for the various reforms under Liyel Imoke (2003 to 2007) which went down the drains as it failed to generate the needed amount of electricity or meet the set goals.”