The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has released a new report which reveals how over N11 trillion meant to provide regular electricity supply was allegedly squandered under the governments of former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan.
The 65 pages report launched on Wednesday at the Westown Hotels, Lagos is titled: “From Darkness to Darkness: How Nigerians are Paying the Price for Corruption in the Electricity Sector”.
The report presented to the media by Yemi Oke, Ass. Professor, Energy/Electricity Law, Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, discloses that “the country has lost more megawatts in the post-privatisation era due to corruption, impunity, among other social challenges reflected in the report.”
According to the report, “The total estimated financial loss to Nigeria from corruption in the electricity sector starting from the return to democracy in 1999 to date is over Eleven Trillion Naira (N11 Trillion Naira). This represents public funds, private equity and social investment (or divestments) in the power sector. It is estimated that it may reach over Twenty Trillion Naira (N20 Trillion Naira) in the next decade given the rate of government investment and funding in the power sector amidst dwindling fortune and recurrent revenue shortfalls.”
The report shows: “The much-publicised power sector reforms in Nigeria under the Electric Power Sector Reform Act of 2005 is yet to yield desired and/or anticipated fruits largely due to corruption and impunity of perpetrators, regulatory lapses and policy inconsistencies. Ordinary Nigerians continue to pay the price for corruption in the electricity sector–staying in darkness, but still made to pay crazy electricity bills.”
The report also accuses Dr. Ransom Owan-led board of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) of allegedly “settling officials with millions of Naira as severance packages and for embarrassing them with alleged Three Billion Naira (N3,000,000,000.00) Fraud. The authorities must undertake a thorough, impartial and transparent investigation as to the reasons why corruption charges were withdrawn, and to recover any corrupt funds.”
The report further called for the reopening and effective prosecution of corruption allegations, including the alleged “looting of the benefits of families of the deceased employees of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) levelled against a former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Power, Godknows Igali.”
A senior lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, who chaired the report launch said: “This report is a must read, and I promise to lead in the follow-up litigation efforts to ensure the full implementation of the recommendations of the report.”
The report launch was also attended by Babatunde Irukera, the Director General/Chief Executive of the Consumer Protection Council (CPC); and Mr Ibrahim Magu, Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) who was represented by Mr Osita Nwajah, Director Public Affairs EFCC.
Both agencies promised to work to ensure the full implementation of the recommendations contained in the report.
Others at the events are Barrister Babatunde Ogala; Dayo Olaide, Deputy Director Macarthur Foundation; Eva Kouka, Program Officer Ford Foundation; Motunrayo Alaka, Coordinator Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism; representatives of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC); the National Human Rights Commission, and the media.
The report reads: “The Obasanjo’s administration spent $10 billion on NIPP with no results in terms of increase in power generation. $13.278,937,409.94 was expended on the power sector in eight years while unfunded commitments amounted to $12 billion.”
“The Federal Government then budgeted a whopping N16 billion for the various reforms under Liyel Imoke (2003 to 2007) which went down the drains as it failed to generate the needed amount of electricity or meet the set goals. Imoke was alleged to have personally collected the sum of $7.8 million for the execution of the contract for the construction of the Jos-Yola Transmission Line, which was never executed. There were documented/reported allegations of corruption against Imoke that fizzled-out shortly thereafter.
“Professor Chinedu Nebo handed over the assets of the PHCN to private investors on November 1, 2013. Prof. Nebo is alleged to have corruptly funded the privatised power sector with over N200 Billion despite privatisation. The allegation of N200 Billion funding of the privatised power sector during Prof Nebo’s tenure should be thoroughly and transparently investigated and anyone suspected to be responsible prosecuted. Any corrupt funds should be fully recovered.