Nigeria’s Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan, has explained that the current probe of the Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Plant (ZHPP) by the Senate is to basically fathom the concession plan of the power plant located in Niger State.
The Senate committee on power held an investigative hearing last Tuesday in line with the resolution adopted by the Senate at its plenary sitting of Wednesday, 23rd November, 2022.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Gabriel Suswan, had requested the Senate to invoke its oversight constitutional responsibility to avert the transfer of unresolved liabilities and future third-party claims to government.
The Senate President pointed out that in furtherance to the committee assignment, invitation had been extended to all concerned stakeholders to come forward with their inputs, observations and contributions to the work of the committee in carrying out its mandate.
“The concerns of the Senate, which culminated into this investigative hearing must be seen by all well-meaning Nigerians from the context of government’s recent experience with the privatization of power assets in Nigeria which has continued to attract public outcry and criticism.
“It is noteworthy that while a segment of the public has applauded the modest gains of the privatization of government-owned power assets in Nigeria, mounting challenges that emerged after the exercise have made many to question the credibility of the process that produced the successor companies and the viability of such companies, hence the need for extreme caution in the concession of the remaining government-owned power assets including the ZHPP.
“The precarious condition of the Nigerian power sector is indeed puzzling considering relentless investments and special interventions made by successive administrations to change the fortunes of the sector for the better,” the senate president said
He noted that between 2015 and 2022 alone, the Nigerian national grid collapsed 98 times. “This immediately brings to question whether the power to be generated from the ZHPP upon commencement of operation will be successfully and fully evacuated and if not, what will be the implication on the capacity of the concessionaire to meet its obligations under the Concession Agreement being contemplated,” he said.
He stressed that failure to address such issues in the past had put the federal government on the path of wastage of huge funds in servicing avoidable contractual obligations.
He assured that the findings of the committee will place the Senate on an informed pedestal to make required recommendations to the federal government regarding the bid to concession the ZHPP.
He pointed out that while delving into the probe, the Senate is not oblivious of the presence and powers of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), the National Council on Privatization and its secretariat, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and other MDAs involved in the proposed concession of the ZHPP.
However, the Senate, he said, has a higher constitutional responsibility to carry out this investigative hearing to expose any semblance of corruption, inefficiency and waste as envisaged by sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution.