$350m power fund not diverted – Adeosun, Fashola

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The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun; and the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), on Tuesday denied the alleged diversion of $350m belonging to the Nigerian Electricity Bulk Trading Company domiciled in the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority.

The NSIA also said the $350m it was managing for the NBET had grown to $384m.

The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the NSIA, Uche Orji, stated that the money was safe.

The officials appeared before the Senate’s Joint Committee on Public Accounts; and Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy in Abuja on Tuesday.

The $350m is part of the $1bn Eurobond facility obtained by the Federal Government in 2013.

Orji told the lawmakers that the fund had yielded interests amounting to $34m.

He said, “The NBET funds are intact with the NSIA. As of our September statement, it has grown from $350m to $397.5m. (The sum of) $13.5m was recalled by NBET to service the interest. So, what we have at the moment is $384m. So, the funds are with us and they are safe.”

Orji announced that the authority would meet in April where the statement of NBET account would be updated and adopted.

On her part, Adeosun explained that contrary to the motion on the floor of the Senate which led to the probe, no fund was missing.

She, however, pointed out that part of the proceeds of the Eurobond was deposited with the NSIA, following the inability of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to utilise the money for specified projects.

But the Chairman of the committee, Mathew Urhoghide, as well as other members, including senators Godswill Akpabio, Suleiman Hunkuyi and Albert Akpan, said the Eurobond was diverted to different purposes other than those prescribed by the 7th National Assembly when the Federal Government sought an approval for the facility in 2013.

Adeosun, however, urged the panel to contact her predecessor, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, since the facility was obtained during her time as the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy.

Her request to have her predecessor invited was however rebuffed by Urhoghide who insisted that since the government is a continuum, she was bound to defend policies that preceded her term in office.

In his presentation, Fashola debunked allegations of fraud and diversion of the $350m by his ministry.

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