The House of Representatives has declared that the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) will not be allowed to embark on new capital projects in 2021.
The House Committee on Power, said this while grilling the Managing Director of TCN, Sule Abdulaziz, over the 2020 budget performance and 2021 proposal by the company in Abuja on Tuesday.
The committee said it did not make any sense to have ongoing projects worth N145bn, with N4bn only available to fund them, and still introduce new ones.
The TCN MD, however, told the committee that ‘higher authorities’ imposed new projects on the company.
The Chairman of the committee, Aliyu Magaji, while reacting to Abdulaziz’ presentation, stated that the lawmakers had the powers to appropriate for or to move the new projects from the TCN budget.
Magaji said, “Last year, they wrote a letter to us indicating that they have almost N165bn debt on abandoned projects, hoping that this year will be better but Allah, in his mercy, brought in COVID-19.
“I don’t know what they will do with N4bn out of the N165bn. It is still within our purview to look at the budget and do the needful for them.
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“I keep asking this question even though you are not the proper person to answer the question: what relationship is between the TCN projects and the Siemens?
“Without the transmission, there won’t be distribution. So, we have to really play up the transmission aspect of it.”
A member of the committee, Mr Shehu Garba, linked the recent nationwide #EndSARS protests to the collapse of the power sector, which he said had led to the collapse of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises.
Responding, the TCN boss said, “Actually, what the Honourable said is correct but you have to understand that we are civil servants.
“Some of these requests are coming from higher authorities and we cannot say no.”
The members of the committee unanimously voted against a motion barring the company from executing new projects.
However, the chairman, Magaji, overruled the votes, insisting on barring TCN from new projects.
Magaji said, “You cannot do N165bn projects with N4bn. It is not possible. And we cannot give you money to embark on new projects while you cannot complete ongoing projects. It does not make sense.”
“It is my opinion that we must concentrate on the ongoing projects. If we are going to give money, we are going to give it to the low-hanging fruits.”
Abdulaziz told the lawmakers that TCN had a total of about 158 major capital projects awarded from 2001 to date, with 39 completed and made up of 28 substations and 11 transmission lines.
Speaking on 2020 budget, Abdulaziz said N6.02bn was appropriated, with N3.01bn, while utilisation was N1.92bn.