Prof-Chinelo-Nebo-300x159The Senate Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy on Tuesday accused the Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, of stalling the review of the $24m Manitoba power contract.

The $24m controversial (N3.85bn) management contract was signed between the Federal Government and a Canadian firm, Manitoba, to run the Electricity Transmission Company of Nigeria, one of the firms that succeeded the unbundled Power Holding Company of Nigeria, for three years.

The committee’s Chairman, Senator Philip Aduda, specifically said the minister had failed to forward the contract papers signed with the power firm to his committee for necessary scrutiny.

He, however, directed the Chief Executive Officer of Manitoba, Don Priestman, who led top officials of the firm to the tripartite meeting, to provide a comprehensive list of Nigerian counterparts to the committee on Wednesday (today).

He said, “We (the Senate) need to know how you signed the agreement and what you signed.”

Senator Usman Abatemi said the power minister could not blame the alleged faulty transaction on the Bureau of Public Enterprises, because “it is a public document and you are the custodian of the agreement.”

Senator Chris Ngige noted that the $24m Manitoba deal was aimed at improving the electricity transmission system but lamented that it had not achieved its set goals.

But Priestman said the company “cannot be turned around overnight. There are no magic wands to do that.”

Aduda also faulted the alleged non-deployment of N16bn approved for the Rural Electrification Agency to undertake electrification projects across rural communities in Nigeria, in line with the provisions of the Electric Sector Reforms Act (EPSR 2005).

The senator threatened to begin calls for the sacking of the REA Managing Director, Kenneth Achugbu, over the non-implementation of the rural electrification projects, with a history of an alleged N5.2bn scam leading to its initial closure in 2009.

The power minister told the Senate panel that a little over N6bn of the approved N16bn had so far been released to the REA, with the balance expected before the end of this month.

But Nebo said the government’s sale of the power plants was transparent.

He said, “We have encountered some teething problems along the way and those problems are not unexpected.”