The Senate has mandated its committees on Power and Public Accounts to probe amounts running into over N2 billion, including interest accrued, and collected on behalf of the Hydroelectric Power Producing Areas Development Commission (HYPPADEC).
Accordingly, the red chamber mandated the relevant committees to invite the leadership of the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the relevant Distribution Companies (DISCOS) and Generation Companies (GENCOs), including the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing to establish the status of the commission’s funds.
These were fallouts of resolutions reached by the Senate sequel to consideration of a motion on funds accruing to HYPPADEC, and sponsored by Senator David Umaru (APC – Niger East).
Umaru in his motion noted that section 1 of the HYPPADEC Act, 2010, established the commission to among other reasons conceive, plan and implement projects for the development of hydroelectric power producing areas.
The HYPPADEC Act also among others, requires the commission to implement all measures approved by the Federal Government for the development of hydroelectric power-producing areas; and tackle ecological problems associated with operation of hydroelectric dams in the member states of Niger, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, and Plateau.
Citing provisions of section 14 of the HYPPADEC Act 2010, the Senate noted that same “established the fund of the commission and also stipulated that a certain percentage of the total revenue generated by any company or authority from the operation of any hydroelectric dams in the member states commission shall be remitted to the fund of the commission.”
Umaru, who chairs the Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters Committee, further noted that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), established under section 31 of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (ESPRA), 2005 is the regulator of the electricity industry.
The lawmaker observed that “due to the delayed takeoff of HYPPADEC, NERC in exercise of its function under section 32(2) (d) of ESPRA directed different government agencies to deduct and retain in revenue yielding accounts, 30 per cent of the total revenue of affected companies and later reduced to 10 per cent.”
He said that “between 2013 through 2015 to date, the market operator, NBET Plc and the DISCOS in compliance with NERC. Directive, reportedly assumed responsibility for the collection of revenue meant for HYPPADEC and these funds so collected has accumulated into huge sums running into billion of naira.”
The lawmaker further observed that since the commencement of remittances by GENCOS and DISCOS, dispute has arisen among electricity market participants as to who has custody of the accumulated funds and. The total amount that has so far been remitted to these government agencies to keep on behalf of HYPPADEC.