The House of Representatives has mandated its Committee on Power to commence full investigation into the circumstances that led to the abandonment of the Federal government’s huge investment of over $4 million on Arochukwu 132/33KV substation for over ten years. The resolution by the House to probe the project followed a popular motion moved at the House by the member representing Arochukwu/Ohafia Federal Constituency, Hon. Uko Nkole. In the motion, Hon Nkole alerted the House that “the project is located at the heart of his constituency in Uburu -Ihechiowa and Amuvi villages, Arochukwu Local Government Area of Abia State. In his words, “the immediate negative consequences to the overall national development remain that the benefitting communities from Abia, Akwa Ibom and Cross River States have been subjected to epileptic power supply and sometimes total darkness as a result of the failure of the project”.
He further lamented that the 2×30 MVA 132/33KV Arochukwu substation conceived precisely in the year 2000 (17 years ago) under the Obasanjo regime has been allowed to become a failed project after all the huge investments. “It was among nine of such projects spread across the country by that administration. The objective was to improve power supply to communities in Abia and neighboring states of Akwa Ibom, Cross River. The project was initiated under the defunct NEPA. My findings from the Bureau of Public Procurement showed that the contract was awarded in May 2001 for the sum of $3.4 Million with a local currency component of another N91 million to cover what was called “Off-shore content” in the contract”.
Nkole recalled that the then NEPA later made a variation request on the contract by adding another $350,000 and N21 million respectively on top of the initial contract sum. This brought the total cost of the project to over $3.7 million and N111.8 million naira local component. By the current exchange rate of naira to one dollar, one can easily imagine the amount of money so far wasted in that project whose site is now a thick forest”. Hon. Nkole told the House.
He further informed the House that the project was awarded under a turnkey contract arrangement. This requires that the contractor was responsible for the design of the equipment, manufacture, installation, testing and commissioning. The contractor was also under obligation to maintain the completed works for a warranty period of twelve calendar months. At that time, the scope of the project covered comprehensive electromechanical and civil works that will make the substation provide electricity successfully to communities in the three identified states of Abia, parts of Cross River and Akwa Ibom State thereby supporting power generation by the national grid.
The Honourable member described as shocking that as at the time the project was abandoned, the Arochukwu 132/33KV power substation was over 90% completed. In addition there is no legal litigation or community unrest issues around the project. Hon. Nkole wonders why was the project abandoned. Why is this project not covered by the power privatization process? What is the relationship between this project and the current efforts by the Hon. Minister to restore steady power supply to rural communities across the nation. Why is this multi million naira project an orphan? He called on the House of Representatives to step up and investigate the project with a view to bringing those who may have been directly or indirectly involved in sabotaging the project to book. He also called on the House of Reps to prevail on the Minister of Power to commence necessary steps to put the project back on track for the benefit of his constituency and other benefitting communities in Cross River and Akwa Ibom States.
Hon. Nkole had fired a petition to the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola on the abandonment of the project. In the petition, a copy of which was made available to Aro News, Hon. Nkole appealed to the Minister to institute urgent investigation into the circumstances on why the project was abandoned at a 90% completion stage and establish facts why the project appear not to be part of the power privatization process. He also requested that Ministry of Power to put urgent measures in place to address all issues that hinder full utilization of the potentials and benefits of this project especially at this time of national crisis in the power sector.
He stressed that the Arochukwu 132/33KV power substation has the potential to address power supply needs of communities in Abia and two neighbouring states of Akwa Ibom and Cross River. The member representing Arochukwu/Ohafia Federal Constituency stated in his petition to the Minister that the time to revive, complete and energize the station as part of on-going efforts to provide reliable power supply to the country is now.
As a the time of this report, preliminary investigations by the House Committee on Power has commenced while the response of the Minister on the petition by Hon. Nkole was still being expected.