Senate Committee on Power, yesterday, queried Minister of Power, Maman Saleh, for siting about 20 rural electrification projects in his Lau Council Area of Taraba State, describing the action as ‘official misconduct’.
Members of the committee said the minister acted against his oath of office to be fair to all, adding that the projects, which were captured in the 2021 budget of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) were uncovered during the minister’s budget defense of the agency, which is under his purview.
A member of the committee and representative of Taraba Central Senatorial District, Yusuf Yusuf, had drawn the committee’s attention to the concentration of 20 projects in various amounts of between N20m to N50m in Lau Council Area as captured in the budget proposal.
Yusuf, however, indicated that he was not challenging the minister, but was only trying to set the records straight.
Chairman of the Committee, Gabriel Suswam, who corroborated Yusuf’s submission, said he was happy that a senator from Taraba pointed out the anomaly.
Other senators expressed disappointment that Saleh allowed his personal interest to affect his official conduct and decisions, which they perceived as a grievous matter.
Explaining the implications of the minister’s action, representative of Kebbi Central Senatorial District, Bala Ibn Na’Allah, said public officials were supposed to show fairness in carrying out their assignments, no matter the pressure.
The senators also expressed disappointment over what they described as REA management’s disregard for establishing regional headquarters and head offices across the country.
Consequently, the Senate directed the agency to revert to the geo-political zones arrangement in locating REA’s regional headquarters.
Suswam, who represents Benue North East Senatorial District, expressed shock when Managing Director of REA, Ahmad Salijo, highlighted the location of some projects to the senators.
The Senate had queried some projects titled: Provision and Installation Of Solar Mini-Grids In Six Geo-political Zones, which appeared twice in the document submitted to the Senate and demanded to know the projects’ locations.
Salijo listed Dutse (North West) Bauchi (North East) Lokoja (North Central), Calabar (South-South), Oshogbo (South West) and Enugu (South East) as locations of the projects, but that trouble started when Suswam insisted on naming the specific projects, adding that the particular projects were for power back up for REA’s regional offices.
However, Suswam noted that Enugu was the only location where REA complied with the national definition in establishing regional headquarters, adding that others flouted the directive on regional headquarters and offices.
He warned that abuse of power by public officers was unacceptable, adding, “To whimsically site projects in one’s locality because you have directors from those places is wrong.”