Probe Crashes As ‘Authors’ Disown Report
From Onwuka Nzeshi in Abuja, 03.19.2009
It was an anti-climax yesterday for the House of
Representatives as it began the long-awaited
consideration of the report of its Committee on
Power conducted last year with enthusiasm amongst
parliamentarians and massive support from the
But the report, with 88 recommendations, ran into
stormy waters as some members of the Committee that
conducted the investigations disowned the outcome of
The much-celebrated document, popularly called Power
Probe Report, was the result of an investigative
exercise instituted by the House to review the
activities of the Federal Govern-ment in the power
sector during the eight-year rule of former
President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The atmosphere in the green chamber was charged as
soon as the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Dimeji
Bankole, announced that the report would be
Initially, many of the lawmakers who saw the report
listed on the Order Paper were not sure it was going
to be considered, given the fact that it was the
last item on the order of the day and a lot of
tension had already been raised by the controversy
trailing the move by the House to debate the
political crisis in Ondo State.
Bankole had at the opening of plenary remarked that
the House was unusually full and wondered aloud why
the chamber was filled almost to the brim. The
observation elicited instant murmurings from members
that the unusual attendance was because of the power
Bankole observed that the D-day had finally come for
the report which was laid on the table since October
10, 2008 to be considered in plenary. He announced
that the report would be considered in three phases.
The first, he said, was the formal unveiling of the
report by the Chairman of the Power Committee, Hon.
Ndudi Elumelu; the second, an opportunity for
members of the Committee on Power to comment on the
report while the third phase was for the entire
House to consider the report clause by clause.
The House then voted to dissolve into a Committee of
the Whole, Bankole stepped down while Deputy
Speaker, Hon. Usman Bayero Nafada, mounted the
saddle to preside.
Elumelu, in rendering his report, disclosed that a
total of $13.28 billion was spent by the Obasanjo
administration on the power sector.
He said: “Many strange things happened” in the
sector during the period under review. According to
him, the former President single-handedly waived due
process for many of the contracts awarded under the
National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) and gave
approval for the disbursement of funds without due
appropriation from the National Assembly.
Other highlights of the report included the
over-invoicing of projects, hundred per cent upfront
payment for the contracts as well as the abandonment
of several contracts after contractors had collected
bogus mobilisation fees.
The report accused the Obasanjo administration of
deliberately circumventing due process in the award
of the contracts as well as handing out the
contracts to political cronies.
Trouble started when the report got to the second
stage and some members of the Committee on Power
took turns to disown and discredit the report. Hon.
Ajibola Muraino (PDP, Oyo State) fired the first
salvo when he took the floor.
Muraino said whereas the assignment given to the
committee was to examine whether the power projects
conformed with the due process principle in their
award and execution, the Elumelu Committee derailed
along the line and “got the whole thing completely
According to the lawmaker, the contracts awarded
under the Obasanjo administration conformed with the
due process in operation during the regime except at
some stage when the administration waived the
process because of the delay it was causing to the
smooth execution of the power projects.
Muraino said that most of the recommendations
contained in the report were moribund and had been
overtaken by events.
Another member of the power committee, Hon. Kayode
Idowu, shocked the House when he said that the House
was actually considering a report that as far as he
was concerned was a non-issue as, according to him,
it was not signed by members of the Power Committee,
the presumed authors of the report.
The contributions triggered off a chain reaction as
more members took turns to either condemn the report
and urge the house to disregard it or speak in
favour and urge the House to consider it to the
Minority Leader, Hon. Ali Ndume, raised an objection
to the position of Muraino, insisting that the
committee was given a specific assignment which they
have done. Ndume said it would be shameful for the
House to be told to now disregard the report because
it has now become irrelevant.
As the debate raged on, Hon. Abdul Ningi sued for
reason to prevail in the House, warning that the
integrity of the House and its leadership was at
“This House, this institution, this National
Assembly is at the threshold of history. It is left
for this House to make that history or mar it. The
credibility of the Speaker and members of this House
is at stake,” Ningi said.
Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa blamed the controversy on
the time lapse between when the investigation was
carried out, report written and the time it took to
bring it to the floor for consideration.
She however appealed to the House to allow a full
consideration of the report and adopt whatever
recommendations were found good and discarding what
must be discarded.
The Action Congress lawmaker warned that to jettison
the entire report as being canvassed by some members
of the committee would not say good of the House of
Representatives. The debate continues today.