opinionBy Nathaniel Baba
Much concerned and anxious over the long awaited take-off of the Hydroelectric Power Producing Areas Development Commission (HYPPADEC), Governor Mua'zu Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, could not but donate a befitting office complex to accommodate and facilitate the take-off of the Commission.
The Commission is much desirable to help in addressing the myriad of perennial plights of the resilient citizens of the communities living upstream and downstream of Rivers Niger and Kaduna, and Kainji, Jebba and Shiroro hydroelectric dams.
About ten million population from across Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara and Niger states, (including Benue and Plateau states added in the current amendment of the Law establishing the Commission) living upstream and downstream have over the years been under threats of floods due largely to operations and activities of the dams.
There is no gainsaying that a larger percentage of the affected population comes from Niger State. It is therefore, no surprise that over the years, the incumbent administration under the pragmatic leadership of the Chief Servant has continued to champion the course of the establishment of the HYPPADEC and its full take-off with dogged commitment, in human, material and financial resources.
On the heels of the donation of the office complex, the Federal Ministry of Power sent a team led by the Director, Investment Sector Development, Dr Hassan Abdullahi to Minna, on a facility inspection on October 13, 2012, and the team gave a deserving approval of the imposing complex. The 35-room office accommodation for the Commission was also inspected by the Technical and Implementation Committee during its maiden meeting on December 10, 2012 in Minna, and likewise, the committee approved the accommodation and expressed gratitude for the magnanimity of the Chief Servant.
The Technical and Implementation Committee of the Commission comprising the secretaries of the Government of Kogi State, Kebbi State, Plateau and Benue states, and the commissioner for Energy, Kwara State, led by its chairman and the Secretary of the Government of Niger State, Mr Daniel Clifford Shashere, at the end of its extensive maiden meeting on December 10, 2013 in Minna, announced preparedness for the take-off of the Commission, and resolved to pay a courtesy visit, without further delay, to the Minister of Power in Abuja, to intimate and solicit for the ministry's support for the take-off of the Commission.
During the visit on December 17, 2012, the Committee impressed it on the Minister to assist in expediting action on the full and smooth take-off of the Commission. The Committee also solicited for the maximum co-operation to enable the Commission discharge its responsibilities of addressing the numerous plights of the millions of people living upstream and downstream of the hydro-dams and victims of the recent flood disaster.
The Committee equally sought for support of the Ministry to ensure compliance with the law establishing the Commission, and an understanding of the role of the Ministry to facilitate full take-off and fast tract the constitution of the Federal Management Committee for the Commission. The Committee also appealed to the Ministry to ensure that funds due to the Commission as enshrined in the law are allocated to it in the Federal Government budget and made available for the activities and programmes of the Commission.
The minister, Hajiya Ibrahim Zainab, while responding to the address by the chairman of the Technical and Implementation Committee, Mr Daniel Clifford Shashere, promptly assured that the Ministry would ensure that the N220 million allocated to the Commission in the 2012 Federal Government fiscal year is released to the Commission for its smooth take-off, while further efforts would be made to ensure subsequent funding of the Commission. The Ministry is also to assist with renovation and furnishing of the office complex.
The minister also called on other member states to compliment the laudable effort of Niger State government, and expressed hope that, at the conclusion of the on-going privatisation of the power sector, the successor dams' management would be proactive to bring succor to the host communities and victims of their activities and operations.
It could be recalled that hundreds of millions of naira was allocated in the Federal Government budget in 2010 and 2011 under the Ministry of Power, but the Commission did not take-off then due to demand for amendment to the Act.
The Minister commended and thanked the Chief Servant for his magnanimity in donating the office complex to accommodate the Commission's staff and urged for further future cooperation and collaboration. Minna, the Niger State capital is to serve as the corporate headquarters of HYPPADEC. The Act signed and passed into Law by President Goodluck Jonathan on August 27, 2010, vest the Commission with the responsibility of managing the ecological menace due to operations of the hydro-dams and related matters.
-Baba is Senior Special Adviser to Niger State SSG