I’m Ready to Testify”: Obasanjo Finally Speaks on $6bn Mambilla Power Contract
Abeokuta, Ogun State – Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has broken his silence on the controversial $6 billion contract awarded to Sunrise Power and Transmission Ltd for the Mambilla Hydropower Project in 2003. In an interview excerpt published by TheCable, Obasanjo vehemently denied authorizing the contract and challenged the former Minister of Power and Steel, Olu Agunloye, to explain the source of his authority.
Obasanjo, who served as President of Nigeria, asserted that during his tenure, no minister had the authority to approve more than N25 million without explicit presidential consent. He emphasized that it was impossible for Agunloye to commit the government to a $6 billion project without his permission, stating unequivocally, “I did not give him any permission.”
The former president expressed his readiness to testify if a commission of inquiry, under the current Bola Tinubu-led government, is established to investigate the matter. He added, “If a commission of inquiry is set up today to investigate the matter, I am ready to testify. I do not even need to testify because all the records are there. I never approved it.”
Obasanjo also revealed his surprise at Agunloye’s presentation of a memo for the $6 billion contract despite being advised against it. He stated that had he known about it during his presidency, he would have dismissed the former minister from his position.
Furthermore, Obasanjo disclosed that Leno Adesanya, the promoter of Sunrise Power, fled Nigeria during his presidency, and he would have taken legal action against him if Adesanya had remained in the country.
The Mambilla Power contract has been the subject of legal disputes and arbitration between Sunrise Power and the Nigerian government. Sunrise Power has sought compensation of $2.3 billion for a contract breach and an additional $400 million as part of a settlement. Nigeria contests these claims, arguing that the contract was unlawfully awarded by Agunloye in 2003.
In a bid to resolve the arbitration, the federal government offered $200 million in compensation in 2020 to kickstart the Mambilla Hydropower Project, but the effort was reportedly halted due to insufficient funds.
The Mambilla Hydropower Project, once completed, is expected to be Nigeria’s largest power plant, generating approximately 4.7 billion kWh of electricity annually. President Bola Tinubu has included the project in his focus for infrastructural development as part of his agenda in the lead-up to the 2023 elections.