AYO ESAN, ABUJA
The President Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government has reiterated its commitment to the actualisation of the Mambilla Power project which was conceived more than forty years ago.
Speaking during a visit to the Chinese embassy in Abuja, the Minister of Power, Engr. Sale Mamman and his Water Resources counterpart, Alhaji Suleiman Adamu described the Mambilla project as one of the legacy projects of President Muhammadu Buhari, which must be executed during his current tenure.
Accompanied by the Minister of State, Power, Jedi Goddy Agba, the Ministers requested the Embassy to impress on the China EXIM Bank to expedite action on the release of the project loan for the commencement of work.
The Minister of Water Resources said the environmental impact assessment exercise on the project was being carried out while a memorandum of understanding has been signed with the Taraba State government for the payment of compensation to owners of land at the project site.
On the release of an interim fund of two hundred million dollars by the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Agency, Suleiman Adamu assured that the Ministry of Justice was already working on a comfort letter to the China Eximbank as part of the Federal government’s commitment.
Adamu also assured that although arbitration was still ongoing with a previous investor on the project, the government was ready to indemnify any funds agreed after the arbitration without affecting the loan agreement with EXIMBANK.
Weighing into the discussion, the Minister of Power, Engr Sale Mamman assured the Ambassador that the Chinese government had nothing to fear as the government was working to remove any impediment which could pose any threat to the delivery of the project.
Mamman insisted that the Chinese government had enough influence to impress on EXIMBANK to hasten the process as the project could not be frustrated by any arbitration.
In his response, Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Zhou Pingjian assured that his country does not encourage white elephant projects.
He advised the Ministers to encourage the direct participation of the Chinese government or companies in some of its projects so as to reduce much borrowing and facilitate easier execution of projects.
He said the EXIMBANK was already investing over $2.6 billion in various projects in Nigeria, including the Abuja greater water project, airport expansion and the Abuja-Lafiya-Makurdi highway project.
He assured that although the Chinese government would not push the EXIMBANK, it would try its best to impress on the bank to meet its commitments.