By Christiana Ekpa
Senate, yesterday, mandated its committees on Power, 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.
The Upper Legislative Chamber, equally mandated the relevant committees to invite the leadership of the National Electricity Regulatory Commission, the relevant Distributing Companies (DISCOS) and Generating Companies (GENCOs), including the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing to establish the status of the commission’s funds.
Senate resolution was sequel to consideration of a motion on funds accruing to HYPPADEC, and sponsored by Senator David Umaru (APC – Niger East).
Senator 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 development of hydroelectric power. Producing areas; and tackle ecological problems associated with operation of hydroelectric dams in the members states of Niger, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, and Plateau.
Citing provisions of section 14 of the HYPPADEC Act 2010, the Senator noted that same “established the fund of the commission and also stipulates 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.”
Umar, who chairs the Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters committee, further noted that 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 take off 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 percent of the total revenue of affected companies and later reduced to 10 percent.”
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.
He added that “there is urgent need for the market operator, the Nigerian Electricity Bulk Trading Company Plc, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, relevant DISCOs and GENCOs, including the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, to render account regarding the total collections so far received on behalf of HYPPADEC and the actual custodians of the fund.”