Fashola’s Fresh Row with the Senate
Fashola in fresh row with the Senate, Nigeria News take a look at the prospects of the new probe.
When he described members representing the National Assembly of having stark and worrisome knowledge about budgeting and planning sometimes ago, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) was summoned by the federal lawmakers to explain himself.
He said he did not mean to make a mockery of the legislators but have to use the language to explain that budget is not physical cash as some members of the National Assembly had thought.
In fact, the real issue about the budget slash complained by Fashola was put aside as the lawmakers battled the minister over his utterances.
That is how we roll in Nigeria, nobody abuses a senator and go scot-free.
Fashola appeared before the panel and left without blemish.
However, as expected, the lawmakers had their plan B and they let it out last week when Senator Dino Melaye raised the alarm that monumental billion naira fraud was going on in Fashola’s ministry.
On Wednesday, Melaye from Kogi West Senatorial District raised the motion at the floor the chamber that the Ministry of Power spent $35 million from $350m domiciled in the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority to finance electricity projects without Senate approval.
The senator wanted the Senate to summon the minister. He eventually got it as the Senate ordered the committee on Power, and Public Accounts to probe Fashola.
According to the Senate, the mandate of the committee is to within two weeks invite the minister and ask him to render the detailed accounts in terms of public funds spent on the Fast Power Projects (Afam Fast Power Project in particular).
The lawmakers want the minister to shed light on the controversial presidential approval of the sum of $35 million and to also show evidence of feasibility study indicating the viability of the projects.
To the Senate, the minister had forced the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, the Nigeria Electricity Bulk Trading Company to release $35 million without Senate approval.
In his motion, Melaye said that the $29 million out of the $35 had been paid to General Electric as a cost for turbines and $6m in consultancy fees to other entities without recourse to the Senate.
To the senate bewilderment, the ministry has not done a feasibility study of the projects and appropriation by the National Assembly as required by the constitution but went ahead to get $35 million for the job.
At present, Fashola has not responded but when he will answer, it may be another bombshell.