Shettima: Tinubu’s Administration Committed to South-east Transformation

Shettima: Tinubu’s Administration Committed to South-east Transformation

•Inaugurates 181mw geometric power plant in Aba 

•Mbah: Project launch signals new dawn in region

Emmanuel Ugwu-Nwogo in Umuahia, Deji Elumoye in Abuja and Gideon Arinze in Enugu

The Vice President, Kashim Shettima, yesterday, said the Bola Tinubu’s administration was committed to revamping critical sectors in the South-east, stressing that Nigeria would work if the region works.

Shettima, during the project launch in Enugu, also inaugurated the 181mw Geometric power plant in Aba, Abia State to accelerate power supply to industrial clusters in the region.

The vice president said this during the launch of the Light Up Nigeria Programme for the South-east as part of efforts to improve energy supply to industrial clusters in the region.

The project, a collaboration between the Niger Delta Power Holding Company Limited (NDPHC) and its partners, is targeted at revamping Nigeria’s infrastructure framework with the much-needed drive in empowering Nigerians and strengthening the economic policies of the Tinubu administration.

The Vice President also flagged off the Smart Schools project of Governor Peter Mbah in Enugu and various road projects in Abia State constructed by Governor Alex Otti.

In his address, Shettima said the Light Up Nigeria Programme, an initiative of the federal government and the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), was an expression of president Tinubu’ determination to tackle the perennial challenge of power supply in the region.

Shettima called on all stakeholders to put hands on the deck to ensure the success of the project.

“The economic fortune of Nigeria remains the critical concern of president Tinubu and we believe that if the power sector works, Nigeria will work too,” he said.

“The Light Up Nigeria project powers the hope of our industrialists and serves as a long-awaited solution to the power supply deficit that has undermined our economy over the past decades. So, this intervention isn’t a ribbon-cutting charade. This is a calculated endeavour to re-engineer our economy, and whatever we design to oil the wheels of our industries is futile unless we stabilize the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI).”

“We were sure of our direction in pursuit of the priorities set by His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and the dream under construction attracts us to this historic city of coals and industries,” he added.

The Vice President stated confidently that “even the most skeptical mind has since been persuaded by the milestones achieved in Agbara since October 12, 2023,” following the completion of technical studies and a new transformer procured, while a mobile transmission substation would soon be up for commissioning.

Noting that the project was not mere rhetoric, Shettima pointed out that, “this marks a significant step toward reliable power supply. The genius of this initiative is that it promises a boost in supply levels to NESI without injecting public funds. Yet, it provides stable power where our economy needs it the most.”

On the choice of Enugu for the launch of the project in the South East which, according to him, was not based on geographical compensation, the Vice President further explained that “with its renowned industrial layouts in Emene and 9th Mile corner, the commercial and manufacturing direction, potentials, and promise of Enugu States align with our vision of fast-tracking the economic growth and influence of this project beyond the South-East, beyond Nigeria, and, in fact, beyond Africa.”

Earlier, Enugu State Governor, Peter Mbah, said the launch of the project signalled a new dawn in the south-east, particularly for industrialists whom be enjoined to take advantage of the project to tackle the bottlenecks they face regarding power availability.

According to him, the project would ensure an efficient dispatch of power to the largest consumers via bilateral sales agreements, which overrides the existing bulk purchase arrangements through NBET, leveraging on a willing buyer, willing seller structure.

“It will improve access to affordable power to the Southeast which will in turn result in reduced power costs for the productive sector and enable them to improve enhanced productivity and generate jobs,” he said.

In his welcome address, the Managing Director of NDPHC, Chiedu Ugbo, said the initiatives demonstrates the commitment and determination of the Tinubu’s administration to provide reliable and sustainable solutions to the electricity challenge in the country, starting with reliable and affordable supply to industries.

“This event marks the formal launch of the South-east phase of the strategic collaboration between NDPHC and other project parties to provide steady and reliable electricity supply to industrial and business clusters across Nigeria,” he said.

“The first event in this series took place on October 12, 2023, in Agbara, Ogun State, South-west Nigeria, where His Excellency engaged with the business community and committed to providing the required electricity to power businesses in industrial areas across the country through NDPHC.”

He explained that the NDPHC had worked closely with the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) and FGN Power Company to conduct engineering surveys, identify sites, and acquire a mobile transmission substation for the project.

Among the dignitaries that attended the event were Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma, Peter Mba of Enugu State, Anambra State governor, Charles Soludo and his Ebonyi State counterpart, Francis Nwifuru.

Others were former Senate President Pius Anyim, Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu,  chairman, Board of Directors, Enugu Electricity Distribution Company, (EEDC), Emeka Offor, among other dignitaries.

Also speaking, Governor Chukwuma Soludo of Anambra State said it was quite auspicious that the launch event was being held in the political capital of the region.

“Enough of the lamentations; let’s focus on getting the solutions here. At the end of this programme, let’s come up with solutions. Power is like a driver, nothing else will happen without electricity,” Soludo said.

At Abia State, during the inauguration of the 181-megawatts Geometric Power Plant, at Osisioma Local Government Area of Aba, in his address titled, “The Power to Dream”, Alex Otti commended the Tinubu administration for its support for the private sector. He noted that the presence of the Vice-president in Aba demonstrated government’s commitment to encourage the growth of the private sector.

The Abia governor, said he considered the Geometric Power as the kind of private sector investment needed to spur Nigeria’s economic growth.

He described the inauguration of the Aba IPP as “a fawn of a new era in power generation and distribution in Nigeria”, adding that his administration would continue to provide every support to ensure the success of Geometric.

“Aba is grateful; Abians are excited forthe Aba IPP,” the Governor enthused, adding that the project has validated my belief in Aba and sends a strong signal that the Abia commercial hub is ready for investors.

“This city is very pivotal to the economy of Nigeria, and to the economy of West Africa,” Otti stated.

Earlier the founder and driving power behind Geometric Power Group, Prof Nnaji, profusely thanked all the individuals and corporate organisations that played significant roles in helping him to achieve his dream.

He described Geometric as “a child of necessity” as the autonomous power project was conceived in 2004 at a time Nigeria’s power supply woes was suffocating manufacturers and shuffling investments.

Nnaji said that the 141MW thermal plant was poised to deliver quality service to consumers in its area of operation, noting that his company had already installed 155km distribution line across the Aba Ring-fenced.

He further stated that a 47km pipeline has been consrructed to supply gas from Owaza field in Ukwa West Local Government of Abia.

According to him, the inauguration of Geometric Power’s IPP represents “a test whether Nigeria can have reliable power supply”.

“We can guarantee that(reliable power). If we have constant gas supply, we’ll provide uninterrupted electricity,” the former Power Minister said.

During a media briefing, Nnaji, highlighted the critical and strategic role played by the management of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and other lenders towards the completion of the mega project that would supply uninterrupted power to the nine Local Government Areas of Abia State and its environs.

At the media parley which Nnaji jointly addressed with Joshua Ikioda, the Group Head of Enforcement who led the delegation that represented the management of AMCON at the event, Nnaji, a former Minister of Power in Nigeria said the project would not have been completed without the key intervention of agencies such as AMCON, Afrexim Bank, Diamond Bank (now Access Bank Plc, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Bank of Industries (BOI), and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

He said, “We started this project when Nigerian banks could not lend to the power sector. The sector was a NEPA monopoly. It was the concession granted to us by President Olusegun Obasanjo that made it possible for financing consideration. Yet, it was only Diamond Bank with vision and wisdom of the founder, Dr. Pascal Dozie that saw the viability of this project, and mustered the courage to lend to it.

“This move boosted the confidence of Stanbic IBTC, which joined Diamond Bank. Subsequently, two FGN institutions helped the two banks to create more room to lend more funds to complete the project.

“AMCON along the line bought part of the debt of the banks, while the CBN through the Power and Aviation Intervention Fund managed by the Bank of Industries (BOI) also provided further funds to the project of which the two banks took up the credit risk.

“We are forever grateful and proud of Dr. Pascal Dozie, and these Nigerian financial institutions for the vision in doing what all the banks should be doing to ensure that major infrastructure projects can be undertaken.

“Diamond Bank’s successor – Access Bank has continued to be a key supporter. In fact, if the then CEO Dr. Herbert Wigwe of blessed memory, the Chief Executive Officer of AMCON, the CEO of Sanbic IBTC, of BOI, and the CBN did not agree to the restructuring that brought in Afreximbank, this project would have died an unnatural death. I also use this opportunity to appreciate the CEO of AMCON for his steadfastness, encouragement, and integrity.”

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