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Nepotism: Power Minister Shortchanged Tarabans, Diverted 20 Projects to Hometown

 Senator Yusuf A Yusuf Kicks

There's a brewing crisis between Senator Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf, representing Taraba Central in the National Assembly, and Minister for Power Engr. Saleh Mamman, over alleged lopsidedness in the distribution of power projects by the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) to local governments in Taraba State.

The Minister allegedly sited 20 mini-grid power projects in his Local Government Area (LGA) of Lau, leaving fifteen other local governments in the state with no projects from the REA.

Members of the Senate Committee on Power however queried why only the Minister's Local Government will have such huge amounts of projects when some other rural communities in the state don't have any.

The Senators made the observation when the Managing Director of the REA, Ahmad Salijo, appeared before the Senate Committee on Power, chaired by Senator Gabriel Suswam, to defend the 2021 budget estimates of the agency.

Senator Yusuf who is a member of the Committee had drawn the attention of his colleagues to the lopsidedness in the distribution of the mini-grid power projects across the country.

He said the budget estimate of the REA was full of uneven distribution of mini-grid power projects for rural communities particularly in Taraba State where the agency's supervising  Minister hails from.

He alleged that most of the mini-grid projects were concentrated in the Minister's Local Government Area.

Yusuf said: "It is not just the N52million but if you look at it from number 85, N30million, N20million, N40million and they are all concentrated in one Local Government, that is the Minister's Local Government Area. 20 projects are in Lau Local Government Area. I am not challenging him but I am sure."

Disappointed at the Power Minister,  Senator Bala Ibn Na'Allah representing Kebbi South, said such a development would amount to a breach of the Constitution if found to be true.

He said the Committee would not pass the REA budget with the anomaly as doing so would amount to a betrayal of the trust reposed in the Senate by Nigerians.

Na'Allah said: "If we sit down here and agree that a budget that pleases a Minister can come, he (Minister) is not doing himself any good because he has sworn to do justice to all manner of people and not to allow his personal interests to affect his official conduct and decision.

"He has by this, clearly shown that he has allowed his personal interest to affect his official conduct and decision, and that is a very serious matter.

"Governance is a very serious issue. I think you (Managing Director of the REA) must take this observation seriously and convey it to the Minister. Tell him that the committee is not in agreement with him.

"We will not sit down and sign this kind of document. We will be failing in our duties.

"We will be failing in the oath of office we have taken to uphold and protect the Constitution if we allow this to go unchallenged.

"Please let him know, there is no sentiment on this matter. Let us all try as much as we can to operate within the elements of our Constitution, we have given ourselves please."

Suswam directed the Managing Director of the REA to go and correct the observed anomalies in the distribution of the mini-grid power projects and to reappear before the panel on Monday.

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