Nigeria would function fully if the southeast  achieves maximum industrialization – Shettima

Vice President Kassim Shettima, has said Nigeria would function fully if the southeast region achieves maximum industrialization and has a sufficient supply of electricity.

The Vice President made the remarks on Monday during the launch of the South East Business Roundtable “Light up Nigeria Program”, conducted by the Niger Delta Power Holding Company Limited, NDPHC, in Enugu.

He compared the people in the area to the Jews, describing them as “practically mobile, economically enterprising, and educationally ambitious.”

Shettima noted that based on President Bola Tinubu’s good intentions, he rejected a plan that called for cutting off the southeast’s energy supply because of its debt profile. He added that, among other things, the governors of the region and the southeast are the best.

According to Vice President Shettima, “We have to make the Southeast work; we’re targeting the Southeast for two million jobs for women and the youths. We’re proceeding to Abia state to commission the power station built by the elder statesman, Prof Barth Nnaji and we will also commission some road projects and back to Enugu to commission the Smart school because education is the greatest gift you can give a generation.”

Enugu State Governor Peter Mbah declared that the “Light-Up Nigeria Project” heralds a new era for the industrialization and power of the South East, pointing out that the project is consistent with his administration’s innovative, disruptive style of governing.

In his remarks, NDPHC’s Managing Director/CEO, Engr. Chinedu Ugbo stated that the lunch was also for the Southeast phase of the strategic collaboration between NDPHC and other project parties to provide consistent and reliable electricity supply to industrial and business clusters throughout Nigeria. The forum offered an opportunity to interact with the Vice President and the business clusters in the region.

According to Ugbo, one of the main issues facing the NDPHC is the inadequacy of the transmission and distribution infrastructure for the purpose of transferring power from the plants. He also mentioned that the financial difficulties facing the electric power industry result in distribution companies and Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Company (NBET) paying generation companies such as NDPHC insufficient amounts.

“The huge indebtedness to the generation companies affects the ability of the generation companies to pay for gas supply leading to gas supply shortage and the resulting low generation. At a recent press conference, the Honourable Minister of Power rightly identified this severe liquidity crisis as a major impediment to electricity supply in the country with over N1.3 trillion owed to generation companies. NDPHC alone is owed close to N200bn out of that.

“These challenges of lack of sufficient transmission and distribution infrastructure to transport electricity from the plants and the sector market liquidity crisis have resulted in gross underutilisation of installed generation assets with unserved potential grid electricity consumers, particularly industries (some of which are represented here today), resorting to expensive and often inefficient self-generation.

“In response to these challenges, NDPHC initiated the Light up Nigeria Project, which aims to provide reliable and affordable electricity supply to industries and homes by utilizing underutilized generation capacity, establishing trading agreements with bulk purchasers of electricity, and mobilizing investments to address technical, commercial, and collection losses in the supply chain. Additionally, NDPHC aims to receive full payment for the electricity generated and delivered, without relying on the Federal Government for such payments. 

“The project aligns with the Electricity Act of 2023 (graciously signed into law by His Excellency Present Bola Tinubu GCFR), which provides a strong framework for state governments to develop electricity markets at the sub-national level, with the aim of delivering consistent and affordable electricity to residents. Through the Light up Nigeria project, state governments will derive the benefit of increased access to electricity, attraction of investment opportunities, revenue generation, and economic growth. At the Federal level, the project will help to reduce the financial burden on FGN’s balance sheet from the debt exposure of NBET. 

“The project is further reinforced by NERC’s MYTO 2024 which mandates distribution companies to secure adequate bilateral contracts and exit from contractual relationships with NBET. NDPHC remains at the forefront in pursuing bilateral electric power sales and other projects that ensure efficient and targeted electricity delivery to end-users.”

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