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Reps Committee grills Finance Minister, Customs CG over power project delays

Consequently, a member of the Committee, Honourable Zakaria Dauda Nyampa expressed dismay over the plights of the contractors and moved a motion that both the Minister and the NCS boss be invited over the unfortunate development.

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Reps Committee grills Finance Minister, Customs CG over power project delays

Story from Fatima Adamu, Abuja.

The committee, chaired by Bamidele Salam, expressed concern over issues surrounding the disbursement of loans and accessing funds by contractors working on capital projects for electricity distribution companies.

Speaking at the opening of the investigative hearing, the Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Bamidele Salam disclosed that the committee was beaming its searchlight on issues around the procedure for the disbursement of loans and accessing the funds by the contractors as well as the repayment pattern for the loans that the distribution companies received from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

It could be recalled that while making their presentations on the status enquiry/investigation on the projects worth $231,004,002.8 and N18,264,411,235.66, contractors including AAKS & Bros Ventures, Laga Cepower Limited, Bussdor & Company Limited, Elektron Petroleum Energy and Mining Limited, Skipper Nigeria Limited and a host of others heaped a lot of blames on the Federal Government and financial institutions for making it difficult for them to access the funds that were released for the projects.

The contractors in their presentations lamented that the inability to give them waiver had accounted for the reason while their equipment lied at the seaport for a long time and demurrage accumulated on them thereby adding extra burden to their contractual obligations.

Consequently, a member of the Committee, Honourable Zakaria Dauda Nyampa expressed dismay over the plights of the contractors and moved a motion that both the Minister and the NCS boss be invited over the unfortunate development.

He said, “Mr. Chairman, with your kind support, I want to come as a motion to summon the Nigeria Customs and the Minister of Finance to clarify on this challenge because the issue of power sector affects everybody. It affects our economy as a nation and if these things are just being introduced, it is quite unfortunate.

“So, Mr. Chairman, I want to move that we invite them and still invite the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) to come and make the same presentation. The contractors will also be here and everybody will know that some people are also part of our suffering in this country. I so move Mr. Chairman”.

The motion was unanimously supported when it was put in to voice vote by the Chairman of the Committee.

The Representatives of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had said that Bank had already released the monies to the various banks that were provided by the contractors from where it was to go to, just as he pointed out that he had visited a number of the projects and have a record that showed the various levels of status of the projects, stating that AAKS and Bros ventures’ completion status stands at 40% while Laga Cepower Ltd who had performed at 90% as well as Bussdor and Company Ltd that had also performed upto 90%.

Some companies, who explained that in spite of the challenges in the process of incurring foreign exchange to execute the project, were able to go into bowing and even mortgaged some of their personal belongings, were commended for doing a great service of honour to the country.

They include Mr. Oscar Igbokwe, the President of Bussdor Group and Mr. Ayodele Osuporu of Inlaks Power Solutions Limited among others.

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This came just as several Managers of various banking institutions were turned back as not meeting the hierarchy required to appear before the committee.

They were to make certain clarifications on their failure to release money to contractors to embark on the projects as they were their bankers.

The committee had written to the Managing Directors and requested that officers not below the rank of Executive Directors but was surprised to find out that heads of units were in attendance for the purpose.

Speaking on the development, the Chairman of the Committee made it clear that only Chief Executives Officers and the accounting officers of the institutions were qualified to appear before the Committee because of the critical issues involved.

He explained that the Committee would also allow persons in the Executive Director positions with letters of authorities to represent their bosses.

He also warned the agencies against delay in submission of relevant documents before the Committee.

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