Former Minister of Power, Olu Agunloye has countered former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s allegation about the Mambilla power project.
During an interview with TheCable, Obasanjo had challenged Agunloye to tell Nigerians where he derived the authority to award a $6 billion contract to Sunrise Power and Transmission Ltd in respect of the Mambilla hydropower project in 2003.
Sunrise Power which is currently in arbitration with Nigeria at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Paris, France, over an alleged breach of contract by the federal government, is asking for a compensation of $2.3 billion, claiming it had spent millions of dollars on financial and legal consultants before the contract was jettisoned.
Sunrise Power is also asking for a $400 million settlement being the terms of the agreement it entered with the federal government in 2020 to end the arbitration.
The Nigerian government’s argument against the lawsuit is centered on Agunloye acting “illegally”. It is alleged that he “suspiciously” awarded the contract one week to the end of his tenure as Power Minister in 2003.
However, in a statement released on Sunday, September 17, Agunloye said the allegation against him is baseless, false, and malicious.
He stated that the nature of the initial contract for the Mambilla power project, was awarded as a “build, operate and transfer (BOT) contract in May 2003 under his watch”.
The former Minister stated that the investment required Sunrise to construct the hydroelectric project up to completion.
He said it was estimated at a maximum of $6 billion (N800 billion in 2003) by four ministers of power and former President Obasanjo before his own tenure.
The former minister who stated he was never questioned or interrogated about awarding any unauthorised Mambilla contract by any Nigerian president, including Obasanjo, for 20 years, also raised concerns about the change of contract model for the Mambilla power project after his tenure, noting that Obasanjo split it into smaller components.
The statement partly read;
“Under this model, the contractor, Messrs Sunrise Power and Transmission Company Limited (Sunrise), was responsible for sourcing funds and executing the project with its own funds.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) was not obliged to pay any amount to Sunrise. On the 28th of May 2007, a day before handing over power to President Umaru Yar’Adua, President Obasanjo changed the terms of the Mambilla project from Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT), which would not have required any investment from the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) to a fully funded FGN EPC contract.”