South-East Poised For Industrial Revival - VP Shettima - oguncitynews


Tuesday 27 February 2024

South-East Poised For Industrial Revival - VP Shettima


...........Commissions 181MW Geometric power plant in Aba

By Yusuf Olatunji 

Vice President Senator Kashim Shettima has officially launched the Light Up Nigeria, South East Initiative in Enugu, describing it as the much-expected solution to the power supply deficit that has undermined the nation's economy and industrialisation.

He said the Light Up Nigeria Project, which is part of the priorities set by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to revamp the nation's economy and ensure rapid industrialization, heralds renewed hope for industrialists, investors and Nigerians who had to bear the brunt of the country's power challenges for so long.

Senator Shettima during the project launch on Monday in Enugu also commissioned the 181MW Geometric power plant in Aba, Abia State to accelerate power 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.

Delivering his address titled, "A Stable Light for a Steady Economy," the Vice President noted that the project is part of federal government's responsibility for the nation's industrialization in fulfillment of the promises made by President Tinubu.

He stated: "This marks a renewal of hope for industrialists, for investors, and for the homes that have long endured the consequences of Nigeria's power supply deficit.

"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)."

The VP had on October 12, 2023 flagged off the initiative in the South West at the Agbara Industrial Cluster, with stakeholders committing to the successful implementation of the project across the country.

Flagging off the project in Enugu for the South East region, he recalled that when the pilot project was initiated with a business roundtable at the Agbara industrial area, it attracted major investors and industrialists even from neighbouring clusters in Oyo and Lagos States.

"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.

Shettima 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 is not mere rhetoric, VP Shettima pointed out that as an industrial powerhouse, the South East and its economic fortune is one of President Tinubu's critical priorities.

"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," he explained.

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, Senator Shettima 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."

He however warned that as Chairman of the Board of NDPHC, he is under obligation "to hold every relevant official accountable and ensure that" the project is not abandoned.

In his welcome address, Governor Peter Mbah of Enugu State thanked the Vice President for his professionalism and deep interest in the growth of the private sector and noted that "It's indeed a new dawn for the power sector in the South East.

Mbah said the project is of critical importance since it deals with the power sector which is pivotal for economic growth adding that it will translate to reduced power costs for the productive sector and create jobs.

"It aligns with our approach to governance in Enugu State. It's a disruptive initiative, an innovative way to addressing the status quo.

"We are indeed happy to be associated with this as a region with a compact to the economy. With our population and market size of over 27 million, the opportunities are here.

"It's initiatives like this that will drive the industrial growth we envisage in the South East and the reduction of poverty. It wouldn't have come at a better time than this when we desire to boost our productivity as a nation.

"Let me enjoin our industrialists to take advantage of this initiative and remove any bottleneck to power use in the region. Let today go down in history as the turning point of power supply in the South-East," Governor Mbah said.

Also, Governor Chukwuma Soludo of Anambra State said that it's quite auspicious that the launch event is 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.

He commended the National Assembly for removing power from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent legislative list but called for the unlocking of gas from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent list to enable governors to tap into the opportunity and provide power for their states.

"If we do everything to fix the ease of doing business without power is an effort in futility," he said.

He assured that Anambra will grant the right of way to any power infrastructure project without hindrance.

On his part, the Governor of Ebonyi State, Francis Nwifuru said "There is no way people will be willing to pay for electricity with a lot of estimated billing."

He called for the metering of all households needing electricity in the region.

Governor Hope Uzodimma on his part noted that despite the huge investments in the power sector, Nigerians have no access to power.

"There is a need for a comprehensive audit of all investments in the power sector in the sector to know whether we go it right and wrong in the past," he said.

Dignitaries present at the the launch were former Senate President and Secretary to Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim; former Governor of Imo State, Senator Rochas Okorocha; Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum, Downstream, Senator Ifeanyi Ubah; Senator representing Imo West senatorial district, Senator Osita Izunaso; Chairman Senate Committee on Power, represented by Senate Minority Whip, Senator Osita Ngwu, and Chairman, House Committee on Power, Hon. Victor Onyemaechi Nwokolo.

Others include Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu; Comptroller-General of Nigerian Customs Service, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi; Director-General of South-East Governors Forum, Senator Uche Ekwunife; Chairman, Board of Directors, Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC), Chief Emeka Offor; members of the state House of Assembly, heads of security agencies, the academia, power sector stakeholders and community leaders, among others.

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