Emily Thompson
Sun, Sep 3, 2023 1:20 PM

Former President Obasanjo Denies Approving $6 Billion Contract for Mambilla Hydropower Project

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Former President Obasanjo Denies Approving $6 Billion Contract for Mambilla Hydropower Project
Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has denied approving the controversial $6 billion contract awarded to Sunrise Power and Transmission Ltd for the Mambilla Hydropower Project. Obasanjo challenges the former Minister of Power and Steel, Olu Agunloye, to explain where he derived the authority to award the contract. He stated that no minister under his presidency had the power to approve funds beyond N25 million without his consent. Obasanjo expressed his readiness to testify if a commission of inquiry is set up by the current government.

Former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has come forward to deny ever approving the award of a $6 billion contract to Sunrise Power and Transmission Ltd for the Mambilla Hydropower Project in 2003. In an interview excerpt published by TheCable, Obasanjo challenged his former Minister of Power and Steel, Olu Agunloye, to reveal where he derived the authority to award such a contract.

Obasanjo vehemently denies authorizing Agunloye to commit Nigeria to the $6 billion project, stating that no minister under his presidency had the power to approve funds beyond N25 million without his express consent. He firmly expressed, "It was impossible for Agunloye to commit my government to a $6 billion project without my permission, and I did not give him any permission."

Furthermore, Obasanjo called out Agunloye to explain the source of his power and authority to award such a contract, stating that he is more than willing to testify if a commission of inquiry is established by the current Bola Tinubu-led government.

"If a commission of inquiry is set up today to investigate the matter, I am ready to testify. I do not even need to testify because all the records are there. I never approved it," Obasanjo declared.

The former president expressed surprise that Agunloye presented a memo for the $6 billion contract despite being advised against it. He also revealed that Leno Adesanya, the promoter of Sunrise Power, fled Nigeria during his presidency, adding that he would have imposed imprisonment if Adesanya had remained in the country.

It has been reported that Agunloye and some officials from the Ministry of Justice have been interrogated, and the Nigerian government may soon charge them to court.

Sunrise Power is currently involved in two arbitrations with Nigeria at the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris, seeking $2.3 billion in compensation for contract breach and an additional $400 million as part of a settlement reached in 2020.

Nigeria contests these claims, asserting that the contract awarded by Agunloye, shortly before the end of his tenure as power minister in 2003, was done unlawfully.

In 2020, the federal government attempted to resolve the arbitration by offering $200 million in compensation to kickstart the project. However, it was reportedly halted due to insufficient funds.

The Mambilla Hydropower Project, located in Taraba state, Nigeria, is a significant initiative expected to generate approximately 3.05GW of electricity upon completion. The project aims to commence operations in 2030 and will be Nigeria's largest power plant, producing approximately 4.7 billion kWh of electricity per year.

In light of the upcoming 2023 elections, President Bola Tinubu has listed the Mambilla Hydropower Project as one of the vital infrastructural projects he intends to focus on. He emphasized, "We will invest in the Kolmani Oil Wells Project inaugurated by President Buhari and indeed in all vital infrastructural projects such as the Mambilla Power Project, the AKK gas pipeline projects."

Source of content: OOO News 2023-09-03 News

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