OrderPaperToday – Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Power, Mr. Daniel Asuquo (PDP, Cross River), has denied any discord or ulterior motives in the ongoing investigation involving the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, as insinuated by the Minister Mr. Babatunde Fashola.
He said the investigation was triggered by a motion raised by Mr. Abubakar Yunusa (APC, Gombe), requesting the Ministry to explain the N42 billion Fast Power Programme and Rural Electrification Project for universities, allegedly awarded without due process.
He further described the yelling during hearings as normal and dismissed any undertones of a witch-hunt and bias because, according to the lawmaker, his committee enjoys a very healthy and cordial relationship with the Minister and they would never intentionally disrespect the person or office of Mr. Fashola.
He clarified that the ‘fireworks’ witnessed between his committee and the Minister was only normal and duty-bound because of the weight of the matter being investigated.
Mr. Asuquo told OrderPaperNG in an exclusive interview that his committee takes parliamentary issues seriously and, therefore, whatever they do complies with the rules of the House, strictly.
According to the Cross Riverian lawmaker, “I don’t think there’s any issue in the course of our engagement with the Minister that isn’t with the House rules of the committee on Power. It is our duty to engage the Minister on issues so raised. As an unbiased house, we feel we should get to the root of the matter and, moreover, this is an ongoing investigation.”
Emphasising the need for cordiality, civility and cooperation by the Minister in the course of the investigation, Mr. Asuquo noted that “rather than throwing tantrums and trying to coerce the committee to his dictates, we would appeal that Fashola sticks to the proper issues.
“I have [the] utmost respect for the person of the Minister and on [a] personal note we respect each other.”
Responding to the allegation by Mr. Fashola that the committee hired an interested party in the matter it was investigating, Mr. Asuquo said it was wrong for the Minister to dictate to the committee whom to hire and, therefore, urged him to deal decisively with the matters raised.
“I thought it was out of place for the Minister to continue to duel on this issue of Consultant, and leaving the substance of the matter which he was invited to give answers to. We saw it as a distraction but we are still investigating what he has been alleged.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Ron Verraneault, the Consultant in question, who also granted us an interview on the issue, dismissed all accusations made by the Minister, saying that it was all an attempt to tarnish his hard-earned reputation.
He further explained that, the reason he feels the Minister has been singling him out in every meeting was because he reported the Permanent Secretary of Power ministry to the Vice President, Mr. Yemi Osinbajo on his illegal activities.
He also took a picture of his conversations as evidence to prove that he was invited for a meeting with the Minister in August 2016, to offer advice on the power sector, which he gracefully obliged.
Now, however, Mr. Verraneault explains that he is perplexed over his accusation of being a fraud.