This Day (Lagos)

13 February 2013

Nigeria: Power - We Have Enormous Problems, but We Shall Overcome, Says Minister

The Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, has acknowledged that there are a couple challenges facing the power sector that have continued to bog down effective service delivery of the commodity to Nigerians.

These problems, which he said, include power transmission, can be overcome as much attention was being paid to the area and others to ensure that the expectations of the people are met in the shortest possible time.

Nebo made these observations at the end of a meeting of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) presided over by Vice-President Namadi Sambo at the State House, Abuja, where the Benue State governor, Gabriel Suswam, expressed hope that once the transmission picks up in earnest, his state which has not been connected to the national grid since its creation 38 years ago would begin to benefit.

The minister expressed optimism that the Federal Government is working round the clock to link many parts of the country to the national grid before the end of the year just as solutions were being sought to other problems militating against unblemished regime of providing power to Nigerians.

According to him, "a lot is already happening. There has been series of meetings. This one is not an exception. It is very likely that by the end of the year there will be a remarkable improvement. With regards to generation, Nigeria is moving ahead by leaps and bounds."

"What we have as a problem that is very significant is the transmission. To be able to evacuate what is being generated and what we anticipate will be an addition to the grid towards the end of the year. We are working on that and today's meeting is addressing some of those issues," the minister stated.

He added that he was confident that with the level of enthusiasm expressed by the president regarding the transformation that must take place in the sector, "I don't have any fear. Quite a bit of our problems are not insurmountable. The problems are very enormous, very challenging but we have the will, the dexterity and the support of the president who is very keen on ensuring that the power sector issue is put behind us."

Giving account of what had so far been accomplished by the Federal Government, the minister pointed out that "things are happening," giving an instance that "in the past couple of months, we have been able to generate and put in the system the transmission much more power than in the past. We are continuing with that the gradual growth and hopefully, when the whole issue of power transmission is addressed, there will be a sporadic increase in the amount of power available to our people."

On yesterday's meeting and its desideratum, Nebo said: "It was a very brief meeting and hopefully by the time we meet again, issues relating to the National Independent Power Project (NIPP) and NDPHC will go a lot further in finding solutions to the problems that we have at the moment."

Meanwhile, Suswam, while giving an update on the situation of power in Benue State, Suswam said his government was anticipating that the Federal Government would augment its 132 KVA transmission line, which was provided by his administration.

Suswam, who also said his government had done a lot in the area of providing electricity to the rural areas of the state, explained that: "Recently we upgraded to132 KVA transmission line. I have done a lot on rural electrification and that has drastically improved the power situation in Benue, but with the 330 KVA and with the sub-station in Benue I believe that it will address a lot of problems."

He pointed out that issues of compensation would not deter the progress of work being carried out by the NDPHC.

Although he agreed that there are outstanding issues of compensation but these, he, therefore, said the issue could be handled by the management of the NDPHC.

"There are issues of way leave and I think the MD of Niger Delta Holding company is in a better position to discuss the issues of way leave but as of the last meeting sometimes last year that we held monies were approved so that these compensation can take place and for now I don't know of any community within Benue State that is agitating for compensation because that has been adequately taken care of."

He added that "now work is progressing. On your way to Benue if you drive from Abuja when you get to Akwanga from Akwanga down up to Benue you will see that the companies are working. I don't think we have any issues or agitations from communities within Benue State."

"The last NDPHC meeting was held a fortnight ago. Then the issue of generation was discussed. Yesterday's meeting reviewed what happened at the last meeting. Details of the direction in which the power reform embarked by the Jonathan administration will unfold next month," Suswam intimated.

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