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SERAP: Nigeria in darkness because Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, Jonathan squandered N11trn

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Between 1999 and 2015, more than N11 trillion meant to provide regular electricity supply for the country was squandered under the administrations of former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan, according to the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).

In a report released on Wednesday, SERAP said “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 N11 trillion”.

This amount, the organisation, said represents public funds, private equity and social investment (or divestments) in the power sector.

It further said that the amount may reach over N20 trillion in the next decade, given the rate of government investment and funding in the power sector amidst dwindling fortune and recurrent revenue shortfalls.

According to the report, presented to the media by Yemi Oke, a lecturer at the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, “Nigeria has lost more megawatts in the post-privatisation era due to corruption, impunity, among other social challenges reflected in the report”.

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The 65-page report, launched in Lagos, is titled: ‘From Darkness to Darkness: How Nigerians are Paying the Price for Corruption in the Electricity Sector’.

“The much-publicised power sector reforms in Nigeria under the Electric Power Sector Reform Act of 2005 is yet to yield desired and anticipated fruits largely due to corruption and impunity of perpetrators, regulatory lapses and policy inconsistencies,” the report said.

“Ordinary Nigerians continue to pay the price for corruption in the electricity sector–staying in darkness, but still made to pay crazy electricity bills.”

Speaking at the presentation, Femi Falana, lawyer and human rights activist, said he would lead in the follow-up litigation efforts to ensure the full implementation of the recommendations of the report

“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,” he said.

The report accuses 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 N3million fraud”.

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It recommended that 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.

It also 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, Godknows Igali, a former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Power”.

“The Obasanjo 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 report said.

“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.

“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 privatized power sector with over N200 Billion despite privatization,” it continued.

“The allegation of N200 billion funding of the privatized 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.”

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SERAP said the research also revealed that the sum of N1.5 billion with which the vehicles were acquired was allegedly sourced from the diverted N27 billion insurance premium of deceased workers of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).

 

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