A former minister of Power and Steel, Dr. Olu Agunloye, has accused former President Olusegun Obasanjo of distortion of facts over the stalled multi-billion-dollar Mambilla Hydropower Project in Taraba State.
Agunloye, who stated this in a statement on Sunday, described the allegation that he mismanaged the Mambilla power project as ‘baseless, false, and malicious’.
The project, first awarded in 2003 to Sunrise Power and Transmission Limited by the then Obasanjo administration, has been a subject of legal dispute ever since and is now under international arbitration between the company and the Nigerian government.
Former President Obasanjo had accused Agunloye of mismanaging the project when the latter was Minister of Power.
He explained that the project was awarded as a Build, Operate, and Transfer contract in May 2003 under his watch.
According to him, under the BOT model, the contractor, Messrs Sunrise Power and Transmission Company Limited (Sunrise), was responsible for sourcing funds and executing the project.
He said the federal government was not obliged to pay any amount to Sunrise.
Agunloye also explained that the investment required for Sunrise to construct the Mambilla hydroelectric project up to completion stage was estimated at a maximum of $6bn by four ministers of Power and Obasanjo before his tenure as Minister of Power.
According to Agunloye, “The former president was not correct when he referred to the award to Sunrise simply as a $6 billion contract (that is, N800 billion in 2003) under his watch. In truth, it was a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) contract in which the FGN did not need to pay any amount to the contractor, Messrs Sunrise Power and Transmission Company Limited (Sunrise).
“As a matter of fact, Sunrise has not been paid a single Naira or Dollar by the FGN from 2000 till date (14/9/23). Sunrise was to source for funds and execute the project with its own funds. The investment of Sunrise to construct the Mambilla hydroelectric project up to the completion stage to deliver electricity was adjudged at a maximum of $6 billion by four Ministers of Power and the former president (Chief Obasanjo) before I became Minister of Power.
“Sunrise was to recoup its investment from the sale of the generated electricity over a 30- to 40-year period at pre-determined tariffs, also agreed with FGN before May 2003.”
He added that in 2003, Obasanjo changed his mind and decided to award the contract “by paying from government own funds.”
“The former President decided, therefore, to break the Mambilla Hydropower Project into smaller components, like civil engineering works, hydraulic works, structural works, and others with the intention to award them as separate multiple contracts as Government procurements, on cash and carry basis, for which Nigerian Government would pay mobilisation fees and make other payments in stages to contractors.
“When one of the contractors, which got a component of the Mambilla project awarded by President Obasanjo as $1.46 billion procurement contract, presented its request for a $400 million mobilisation fees, President Yar’Adua scrutinised the contract and cancelled it in 2008 because of proven corruption on the part of officials who served under President Obasanjo between 2003 to 2007.”