Delta State Coalition of Civil Societies has described the state's newly inaugurated Independent Power Project (IPP), located in Asaba, the state capital, as a 'fraud and conduit for government officials to loot the state treasury'.
The coalition described the project which was inaugurated on Monday as 'illegal', saying it does not have the mandatory Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report and approval from government regulatory bodies.
It, therefore, blamed Vice President Yemi Osinbajo for allowing himself to be used to inaugurate an illegal project that has no approval.
The multi-billion naira 8.5 Megawatts IPP project has continued to generate controversies and ripples across the state following the alleged fraudulent manner it was done in utmost secrecy.
The project was done by the state government in partnership with Bestanchury Power Solutions Nigeria Limited (BPSL) and Africa Plus Partners.
The coalition condemned the project in an open letter titled, "Open Letter To Delta State Governor And Deltans Who Will Have Cancer In The Nearest Future Due To Poor Government Regulations".
The letter was addressed to the state governor, Ifeanyi Okowa and also sent to the state Commissioner for Environment and other relevant authorities.
Signed by its public relations officer, the coalition of civil societies and the state Director-General of Young Nigerian Rights Organisation, Victor Ojei, in the letter called on the Nigerian government to stop the project because of its health hazards to residents in the area.
The coalition said, "The IPP project of Asaba located at NTA Junction, Asaba does not have EIA license and exposes residence of that region to respiratory diseases and cancer in future. Prior to this petition, we had sent two petitions with respect to the above subject on our concerns as watchdogs of the society.
"We are social justice crusaders, we consulted with appropriate stakeholders and state actors but till date, we did not get any response thus making it obvious that the government is trying to legalise illegality with respect to enforcement of power laws that thus violates the rights of Deltans be it in construction of shops under high tension transmission cables or setting up an IPP at a location which poses a risk to the lives and properties on the immediate environment it was setup.
"We have made efforts to drag in other stakeholders who can help resolve these challenges which obviously calls for concerns over lives and properties. But since the consultations did not work based on the silence of both state actors and non-state actors (NERC, BEDC and NEMSA- Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency), then confrontation via institution of legal action means becomes inevitable. The IPP does not have any authorisation document to be in operation. The Company needs a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) because the former expired in 2019. They were supposed to have an EIA from the Federal Ministry of Environment, of which the Federal Ministry of Environment is not aware because nobody has told the ministry that the project exists.
"PPA is an agreement between the parties, the government and the company involved. The original arrangement was that the Delta state government will pay the private investor N300,000,000.00 (N300 million) monthly, this will last for ten years thus giving billions of naira which eventually the project will become theirs based on the project is a B.O.O (Build Operate and Own) as against B.O.T (Build Operate and Transfer). The state government before now paid an estimate of N25,000,000.00 monthly to BEDC for all parastatals which the state has abandoned and negotiated with the IPP investor to pay the sum of N215,000,000.00 monthly after we raised our concerns.
"The Delta state government went on with the investors to pay these monthly payments in two components. (i) Energy which cost N185,000,000.00 (ii) Fuel component which mandates the Ministry of Energy to pay for the fuel at the cost of N30,000,000.00 monthly and totally N215,000,000.00 monthly. Be conscious of the fact that nobody also confirms the usage of fuel to measure fuel consumption from the Ministry of Energy. Nobody also confirms the usage of energy, they lack the capacity of an engineer. The project also doesn't have any electricity metering to measure the energy consumed. The project does not have NEMSA certificate, the role of NEMSA is to validate the materials used for the installation of the IPP. NERC and BEDC were compromised by the Delta state government because they both failed in enforcing statutory duties.
"The IPP was supposed to have NERC certificates, one certificate for power generation and the second certificate will be for power distribution. Below are the disadvantages of CNG (compressed natural gas) being used to power the project. Its low energy density results in low engine performance. It has low engine volumetric efficiency because of gaseous fuel. It needs large storage tanks, which is a safety concern. It has inconsistent fuel properties. Its refuelling is a slow process. It's highly combustible. Disadvantages of Liquified Natural Gas include combustion, temperatures. There are some disadvantages of NLG such as leakage of gas; they may be explosive, main problem is that it is odourless and undetectable so without odourless.
"Combustion of NLG produced carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and other toxic carbon. With the above disadvantages, you can see that the Delta State government, state actors and non-state actors do not care about the health and safety of an average Deltan. It is now very obvious that the Federal Ministry of Environment is not aware of the project so where did they get EIA from? NEMSA only gave them a temporary certificate which does not permit them to operate and has been expecting them to undertake corrections and invite NEMSA to come and inspect the said corrections before issuing them a proper certificate that will permit them to operate fully.
"Both documents are requirements for them to get a NERC license which they need to be recognised and operate as a GenCos on the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI). NERC is compromised as they are authorising plant commissioning verbally and without reference to any of their regulatory documents. (It is) a project which seeks to take from the Delta State government a monthly bill of N215 million (on average) for ten years. At the end of the ten years, the Delta State government would have paid the IPP a total of N29 billion and still not own the project because it is a B.O.O (Build, Operate and Own) business model and not a B.O.T (Build, Operate and Transfer) business model."
Our correspondent gathered that the project was the result of an alleged deal between some top government officials and private individuals. However, it was observed that following the controversy trailing the IPP project, the vice president, Osinbajo declined to make comments on the IPP during inauguration but rather commended Governor Ifeanyi Okowa while inaugurating the multi-billion naira state secretariat shortly after the IPP inauguration.
Meanwhile, when contacted about all the allegations on the inauguration of the IPP by the vice president, Osinbajo; the state Commissioner for Energy, Jonathan Ukodhiko, dismissed all the allegations, saying the project is not under Public-Private Partnership (PPP), as the state government didn't contribute a dime to the entire project adding that the IPP project is a better deal, favourable and convenient for the state government.
Ukodhiko, who seemed angry and incoherent, wrongly insisted that projects are not inaugurated but commissioned.
"Please, please, please correct yourself, that English is not correct, the Vice President didn't inaugurate the project but commissioned. There's no English like inauguration, you don't inaugurate projects but commission. You can only inaugurate a board, committee or panel, so, there is nothing like inauguration of projects. You commission a project, not inauguration.
"However, all those, especially the civil societies criticising the project are fools who don't know anything about such a project. They are mad, stupid and foolish. What the state government is paying now is far better than what the state was paying to BEDC at the end of the month. We were merely paying for darkness. Let anyone who is angry go to court. Where were the so-called civil societies when Nigerians were being killed and with the hike in prices of commodities?" the commissioner said.