The House of Representatives Public Accounts Committee on Thursday summoned the Central Bank of Nigeria and 11 Electricity Distribution Companies over $321 million and N18.2 billion loans taken for accelerated electricity transmission/distribution interface, lines, and substation projects.
The summoned bodies are expected to appear before the committee on November 8.
According to The PUNCH, the committee’s Chairman, Bamidele Salam, gave the summons while receiving the Managing Director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, Sule Abdulaziz, who appeared before the committee on Thursday.
The lawmaker who represents Ede North/Ede South/Ejigbo Federal Constituency, Osun State, stated that the House has a petition alleging a lack of proper use of the funds that were paid to the DISCOs by the apex bank, following a directive from the TCN.
The TCN boss informed the lawmakers that the funds were paid directly to the DISCOs by the CBN to work on sundry electricity projects in the country, adding that repayment was from the revenue of the TCN.
This repayment plan did not, however, go down well with the committee.
Thereafter, Salam urged TCN to provide the committee with details of the payment made, the number of DISCOs involved, and the level of work done, among others.
Salam said, “Sometime in 2021, the then President, Muhammadu Buhari, granted that certain funds be made available for the purpose of enhancing the capacity of our transmission and distribution lines to be able to have a more robust power sector intervention, and these funds were made available for certain projects to the distribution companies.
“It is the concern of the petitioner that the funds have not been judiciously used and that the project ought to have been delivered by now, upon which we caused a letter to be written to the Transmission Company of Nigeria, which also sent in a response stating the status report of the project as well as the procedure for the implementation of that loan disbursement and execution of the project by the distribution companies.
“Our concern is to ensure that all our institutions work well in accordance with the law and in accordance with global best practices and to ensure money is judiciously utilized.”
Abdulaziz identified what he called gaps in the electricity sector value chain, adding that DISCOs have been complaining about the power supply from TCN.
“It was observed that TCN does not have the amount to do those projects, so the Federal Government involved the CBN to finance the projects. The Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission being the regulator now is the one leading the exercise. TCN is just a beneficiary of the project. It was signed by the DISCOs. In TCN, there is a Project Monitoring Office that was set up to do this procurement,” he stated.
Also speaking, the TCN Market Operator, Edmond Eje, said NERC oversaw engagement between TCN and 11 DISCOs to align on a list of critical interface projects that would significantly increase TCN’s capacity to unlock DISCOs energy demand in critical load centres across the country.
A total of 125 projects, he said, were identified in the tripartite engagement.
“The Commission approved the project list of 125 projects as well as the securing of financing from the CBN for the same project to the tune of about N122.3 billion in loan.
“The TCN and the 11 distribution companies set up a multi stakeholder project management office that was responsible for undertaking the procurement and eventual monitoring and evaluation of the project to implement the DISCOs intervention,” he added.