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Electricity: Shettima activates ‘light up Nigeria’ project, avers South-East poised for industrial revival

Vice-President Kashim Shettima (l) and Other Dignitaries in Enugu State Photo: State House

*Vice-President Kashim Shettima, who commissions 181MW Geometric power plant in Aba, Abia State, maintains the light up Nigeria project is to revamp the country’s infrastructure framework, empower consumers, and strengthen the economic policies of the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Vice-President Senator Kashim Shettima Monday, February 26, 2024, officially launched the Light Up Nigeria, South East Initiative in Enugu, Enugu State capital.

The Federal Government has described the ‘Light Up Nigeria Project’ as the much-expected solution to the power supply deficit that has undermined the economy and industrialisation in the country.

Stanley Nkwocha, Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on Media and Communications

(Office of The Vice President), in a statement issued Monday, noted the Light Up Nigeria Project is part of the priorities set by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to revamp the Nigerian economy.

The government stated the project is also designed to ensure rapid industrialisation, herald renewed hope for industrialists, investors and Nigerians who have had to bear the brunt of the country’s power challenges for so long.

Senator Shettima equally commissioned the 181MW Geometric power plant in Aba, Abia State, to accelerate power supply to industrial clusters in the region.

The project, said to be a collaboration between the Niger Delta Power Holding Company Limited (NDPHC) and its partners, is targeted at revamping the country’s infrastructure framework with the much-needed drive to empower Nigerians and strengthen the economic policies of the Tinubu administration.

Besides, the Vice President kick 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 titled, “A Stable Light for a Steady Economy,” Shettima noted that the project is part of Federal Government’s responsibility for the industrialisation of Nigeria in fulfillment of President Tinubu’s promises.

“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,” stated the Vice President.

He said: “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 stabilise the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI).”

It is recalled Shettima October 12, 2023, had 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.

In launching the project in Enugu for the South East region, the Vice President 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.

He affirmed the government’s objective, stating “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.”

Shettima further 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.

According to him, the project is not mere rhetoric, as he explained that as an industrial powerhouse, the South East and its economic fortune is one of President Tinubu’s critical priorities.

He noted: “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.”

As regards the choice of Enugu for the launch of the project in the South East which, Shettima disclosed the selection was not based on geographical compensation.

He rather stated: “With its renowned industrial layouts in Emene and 9th Mile corner, the commercial and manufacturing direction, potential, and promise of Enugu State 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.”

The government, nonetheless, caution that as Chairman of the Board of NDPHC is under obligation “to hold every relevant official accountable and ensure that” the project is not abandoned.

Also in his welcome address on the occasion, Governor Peter Mbah of Enugu State thanked the Vice President for his professionalism and deep interest in the growth of the private sector.

The governor said: “It’s indeed a new dawn for the power sector in the South East.”

Mbah asserted that the project is of critical importance since it deals with the power sector which is pivotal for economic growth.

It will translate into reduced power costs for the productive sector and create jobs, stated he.

The governor also said: “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.”

The Enugu State Governor explained: 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.”

He urged other stakeholders: “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.”

Speaking on the occasion also, Governor (Prof.) Chukwuma Soludo of Anambra State said it’s quite auspicious that the launch event was being held in the political capital of the region.

Soludo stated: “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.”

The governor equal applauded the National Assembly (NASS) for removing power from the Exclusive Legislative list to the Concurrent Legislative list.

He, therefore, 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.

The governor said: “If we do everything to fix the ease of doing business without power is an effort in futility.”

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

Governor Francis Nwifuru of Ebonyi State as well said: “There is no way people will be willing to pay for electricity with a lot of estimated billing.”

He urged for the metering of all households and consumers, who need electricity in the South-East region.

In how remarks at the event, Governor Hope Uzodimma noted that despite the huge investments in the power sector, several millions of Nigerian consumers have no access to power till this day.

Uzodimma said: “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.”

Dignitaries in attendance at the the project launch in Enugu 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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