In a determined move to address the huge power shortfall in the country, the Federal Government has signed the World Bank Partial Risk Guarantees (PRGs) of N47.4 billion in support of the Azura-Edo Independent Power Plant. When completed, the IPP will add 450 megawatts of electricity to the national grid.
Though the national optimal power level is put at about 50,000 megawatts the Azura-Edo IPP deal is a significant step towards power sufficiency. We commend the Federal Government, World Bank, and the Azura Power West Africa Limited.
We ask all the parties to stick to the terms of the MOU so that the IPP is delivered on schedule and to specification. This is very important considering our long and chequered history of failed efforts to ensure power sufficiency in the country.
We recall that under the erstwhile Olusegun Obasanjo administration, over 16 billion dollars was expended on electricity with very little to show for it. Sadly, the Umaru Yar’Adua government that succeeded it stalled the projects under the guise of a review which the immediate past Goodluck Jonathan administration was unable to conclude. The entire exercise was characterized by policy somersaults and technical deficiencies which have left the nation hugely shortchanged.
The only way out is to continue to push forward, and we are happy that the present government is doing that. The nation has witnessed some improvement in electricity supply which sources attribute to the definitive “body language” of the new leadership and the improvement of gas supplies to some of the power plants.
The positive development should be sustained and efforts diversified in harnessing other sources of power generation apart from thermal. The goal to attain national power self-sufficiency is a huge one and no resource should be spared.
For some time now, we have ignored other proven sources of power generation such as coal, solar and hydro. This is the time to renew and significantly improve investments in them and harness them for the national good.
There can be no better time than now given the overflow of international goodwill on account of the recent successful democratic transition and the perception of a new leadership with integrity in the country. Credible reports said that Nigeria needs about 20 billion US dollars annual investment in the power sector to attain the national goal of 50,000 megawatts of electricity in the next 10 years. This is no small challenge, but this is the end we must pursue.
The overall benefit on the economic wellbeing of the country when optimal power becomes a reality will be immense. The climbing figures of the unemployed, presently put at 25 per cent, with over 70 per cent of that figure said to be youth, can be expected to greatly reduce on account of the new jobs that would be stimulated. The point has been well made that with steady and adequate power, all other things will fall in place. The majority of the people already used to self-employment will find new and productive avenues for their energies to the benefit of the economy and national wellbeing.
There are many other IPPs presently on-going or stalled which the Buhari government has to quickly, but painstakingly review if we are to attain the national power benchmark.
We cannot run away from the fact that there are sufficient issues with some of them which may prevent them from being delivered. What happens to the investments in them then? Those who have deliberately misled the country should be brought to account.
More importantly, where lapses exist in our present laws, they should be reviewed to allow the country maximize new investments in the power sector. This is very crucial for the present and long term economic health of the country. Optimal power generation is certainly at the centre of a diversified economy which we must seek in the light of dwindling oil prices and faltering economy.
We eagerly expect the benefit of a completed and well evacuated Azura-Edo IPP to the national grid. With the guaranteed 450 megawatts added to the national power bank, the steady march to power sufficiency will well be on course.
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