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Last month the U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, Terence McCulley bluntly told Nigeria’s Minister of Power Barth Nnaji that the United States would only invest in the nation's power sector if the industry’s "endemic corruption" was adequately addressed.
McCulley’s indictment in fact echoed the conclusions of a number of government investigations. In 2008 the National Assembly in an investigation of the nation’s power industries found that $13.28 billion was expended on the power sector, with further unfunded commitments of over $12 billion, in disregard of Sections 80(3 and (4) of the 1999 Constitution which state clearly, “No moneys shall be withdrawn from any public fund of the federation, other than the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the federation, unless the issue of those moneys has been authorized by an Act of the National Assembly,” The Leadership newspaper reported.
The National Assembly investigation also uncovered that correct legal procedures in the appropriation and release of funds for the power projects were frequently circumvented, while project costs were routinely and massively inflated, in a number of cases by up to 1,000 percent.
Alarm bells about the sector’s inefficiency and corruption have been sounding for years; the late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua expressed concern in January 2008, when he wondered why the "$10 billion invested in the power sector between 2000 and 2007 had not translated into power generation, transmission and distribution."
By. Charles Kennedy, Deputy Editor OilPrice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com