By Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Rural Electrification Agency (REA) has said it is relishing the Federal Government’s recent proclamation that restored its legal existence which would enable it to do things differently.
According to the agency at the weekend in Abuja, electrification projects which had been abandoned across the country, owing to its previous suspension by the government, will receive speedy execution in line with the established mandate of the agency.
REA has about 1,946 on-going rural electrification projects nationwide that are yet to be completed.
Although, the Managing Director of REA, Kenneth Achugbu, told newsmen shortly after his induction as a fellow of the Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE) that availability of funds could pose as a challenge to the plans of the agency, he however expressed optimism that government would provide it with the needed support to complete the abandoned projects.
Achugbu said: “Life is back to the agency. We thank the President for this. We will now focus on transformation, improving the way we do things. REA has keyed into the transformation agenda to ensure that things move well in line with the plans of government. We are going to continue with the abandoned projects as soon as we are given the go ahead.”
He noted that: “Every Nigerian is entitled to affordable electricity, especially in rural areas. Everywhere in Nigeria is entitled to be electrified, and so we are going to be making sure that within our budget provisions, our projects get back on track, we complete them and get them connected to the national grid.
We also want to make sure that gradually, within budget limits, we execute our plans with utmost efficiency and prudency because funding is a major problem in Nigeria. We have many projects, but little funds to execute them.”
Achugbu who also spoke on the practice of the engineering profession in Nigeria, emphasised the need to institute principled ethics of effective planning amongst professionals in the field adding that proper planning has remained the core of successful project implementation.
“This award is a big pat on the back for me; it is one of the highest awards to have in the engineering profession in Nigeria and I feel very happy and very motivated to pursue engineering to the highest level.
“An award like this empowers one to increase the practice of engineering, maintain standards and stand the test of time to improve engineering practice. The major issue in engineering practice that needs to be improved on is planning. Engineers in Nigeria and elsewhere are the same. What is significant is planning. We should focus more on planning,” he said.
It would be recalled that some members of the National Assembly were alleged to have played uncanny roles in a N5.2 billion rural electrification contract scam which had necessitated a move seen by many as throwing away the baby with the bath water by then President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua to amend the Act establishing REA.
Yar’Adua had on June 10, 2009, sent a bill to the National Assembly for an act to amend the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (EPSRA) 2005 repealing the rural electrification agency. The alleged persons involved in the scam have since been discharged of accusations.
The bill sought to repeal REA and transfer its functions and liabilities to the minister of power. While the bill was undergoing deliberations at the National Assembly, the ministry of power opted to shut down the agency and by its directive, REA ceased to exist from September 15, 2009, until recently when the Minister of State for Power, Mr. Darius Ishaku, disclosed that government has withdrawn the bill and reactivated the agency.
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