The Nigerian government has explained that the Mambilla Hydropower Plant is being delayed due to delay by the Taraba state government to provide comprehensive list of land owners and beneficiaries to be compensated over the site of the 3,050 megawatts project.

It was gathered from the top officials of the ministry of Power in Nigeria that a comprehensive list of those who own the land is being awaited.

It was further gathered that the Taraba State government had yet to send the list of land owners and beneficiaries to be compensated several months after the request was made by the federal government. Government had released N700 million to the Taraba state government to carry out survey works on the project site.

The money was meant for would be used by surveyors to ascertain the actual land area for the project before the commencement of compensation to beneficiaries. Ministry officials said work is yet to begin at the site

Special Assistant to the Minister of Power on Media and Communications, Aaron Artimas, who spoke to newsmen in Abuja last week, said, “We have done our own part by releasing money for the site survey and sensitisation. That is where we stopped because the state government is supposed to assign other tasks to us since land is vested on state governments. So we are waiting for them to submit the list of beneficiaries for compensation so that the exercise will commence.”

The 3,050 megawatts, Mambilla Hydropower project has remained on the drawing board for about four decades. In February this year, the Chairman, House Committee on Power, Magaji Aliyu, declared that the over 40-year-old project only existed on reports and papers.
Artimas stated that the Federal Government would fund the compensation of beneficiaries, but also noted that the COVID-19 outbreak had slowed the sequence of events on the project. “By our calculation, we would have been paying the compensation by now. However, the report hasn’t come to the ministry yet.

“We are waiting for the Taraba State Government to submit that report so that we can move into the next phase of compensation,” the minister’s aide said.

He said the federal government could not bypass the Taraba state government on the land issue because constitutionally, all lands are under the authority of state governments. “So it was the responsibility of the state government to come up with the lists of beneficiaries,” the minister’s spokesman said.

By Chibisi Ohakah, Abuja

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