Investigate N426b NEP grant, group tasks Tinubu
A Civil Society Organisation, Coalition of West African Investigative Journalists, (COWAFIJ), has called on President Bola Tinubu to initiate an investigation into the spending of over $550m (N426 billion) repayable grant by Nigeria Electrification Project (NEP).
NEP, a unit in Rural Electrification Agency (REA), according to COWAFIJ at a press conference in Lagos at the weekend, obtained the loan from World Bank and African Development Bank under the incumbent Managing Director of REA.
Speaking at the event, the watchdog journalists’ group’s General Secretary, Comrade Gboyega Adeoye said since December 2019, NEP’s repayable grants from World Bank and African Development Bank to improve access to electricity in underprivileged communities across Nigeria, which is its core mandate has totalled over $550m, approximately N426 billon.
The grant, Adeoye claimed, has been misappropriated, adding that several contracts awarded in respect of the loan are also in violation of public procurement law.
“It is worrisome that in spite of the huge sum at the disposal of NEP, access to power is still a mirage in virtually all disadvantaged communities in the country.
“In fact, there is no way anyone can palliate, disguise or deodorise the wasteful spending of the humongous sum that is devoid of internal review, external oversight or accountability, with violation of public procurement law.
“In any case, the Federal Government is duty-bound to repay the grant and so, it behoves it to know how it was spent, particularly when it is obvious that the money has not answered its purpose as energy poverty among the poor groups is on the rise.
“It is based on the foregoing that we call on President Tinubu to step in and do the needful by instigating probe of the over $550m loan of which $350m is from World Bank,” he said.
Adeoye also urged World Bank to stay action on its plan to give NEP a fresh $750m grant until the spending of the initial grant are accounted for.
“Some days back, we listened with surprise and sadness the announcement by World Bank Director of Strategy and Operations, Western/Central African Region, Ms. Elizabeth Huybens that this coming August, another $750 million will be made available to NEP in grant.
“We entreat the bank to tarry until those currently charged with managing the affairs of NEP, particularly as regards the loan and contract awards concerning the grant and past spending are subjected to close scrutiny by relevant enforcement agencies,” Adeoye said.
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