The 2024 budget proposal lacks an allocation for the Mambilla Hydro-Power plant project in Gembu, Taraba State, as reported by Daily Trust. Despite being a project of significant controversy during the previous administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, the Mambilla Power Project is envisioned as the largest hydropower plant in Nigeria, capable of generating over 3,050 Megawatts of electricity.
Approved by the Federal Executive Council in August 2017, the project had a budget of $5.792 billion (approximately N1.140 trillion) and was assigned to the Chinese Civil and Engineering Company for engineering and turn-key responsibilities, covering civil and electro-mechanical works. Former Minister of Power, Babatunde Fashola, emphasized a construction timeline of 72 months and a funding structure where the China Export Import (EXIM) Bank would cover 85% of the cost, with the federal government contributing 15%. The project, involving the construction of four dams and 700 kilometers of transmission lines, was anticipated to boost the economy and address climate change concerns.
In the 2023 budget, the Ministry of Power allocated N1.1 billion for the Mambilla Power Project, but the 2024 budget reveals a lack of funding for the initiative. Instead, the proposed budget includes N400 million for conferences, a new addition, and N300 million for the promotion of investment and development in the power sector.
The analysis of the 2024 budget proposal discloses that the highest allocation from the proposed N96.8 billion for capital projects is directed towards the “Nigeria Distribution Sector Recovery Program (DISREP)” at N72.4 billion. The Senate Committee on Power plans to question Minister Adebayo Adelabu about the absence of funding for the Mambilla Power Project and the allocation for conferences during the budget defense.
Expressing concern, the Northern Elders Forum suggests that the omission of the Mambilla Power Project funding in the 2024 budget signifies a lack of commitment to addressing Nigeria’s energy crisis. They assert that deliberate neglect may undermine the North’s economic viability and the significant job opportunities the project could create. The forum also questions the allocation of substantial funds to conferences while critical infrastructure projects like the Mambilla Power Project remain neglected.
Responding to inquiries, the Ministry of Power’s Director of Press, Florence Ekeh, refrains from commenting on the budget proposal. Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) Executive Director, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, criticizes the budgetary priorities, describing the neglect of the Mambilla Power Project and the substantial allocation for conferences as a misplacement of priorities by the federal government. Rafsanjani emphasizes the failure of the past administration to deliver on the Mambilla Power Project and its potential contributions to the national power grid.