January 6, 2009

‘Electricity will decide 2011 election’

The Federal Government on Monday said that availability of electricity would be a major electioneering campaign tool in 2011.
It said that because of this, government would adopt a radical approach towards changing the status quo, as records indicated that current generation level vacillated between 2,000 and 3,000 megawatts.

The Minister of State for Power, Mr. Nuhu Wya, stated this in Abuja on Monday when he visited the Rural Electrification Agency.

He said that rural electrification was very vital to poverty reduction in the country, adding that as a member of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, the government was aware of the role of power availability in tilting the pendulum in the next election.

Wya said, “As a faithful of the PDP, this is a vote- winning agency. We’ll deliver the dividend of democracy to the rural community. This is, therefore, a very fundamental and important agency to the power sector and to the nation.”

According to the minister, the delivery of electricity to the rural communities may turn out a way for the PDP to secure victory at the poll in 2011, since it plans to deliver on its promises on power generation.

He described the REA as a fundamental unit in the power sector and to the nation, adding that government would redouble its support to it.

Nigeria, the minister said, was currently in energy crisis, stressing that operators of the sector needed to generate more electricity to change the current ugly situation.

Wya also charged the REA to increase its efforts in the generation of electricity from non-conventional sources.

He directed the agency to collaborate with the Energy Commission of Nigeria and other relevant agencies in the sector to generate between five and 10 megawatts for the consumption of rural communities.

Earlier, when Wya visited the ECN, he stressed the need to pass the National Energy Policy and National Energy Master Plan into law.

He said that he would soon send a memo to President Umaru Yar’ Adua on the need to pass them into law.

The minister lamented that many discoveries of the commission had not been embraced by the private sector, stressing that there were many advantages in the use of alternative sources of energy.

He however, criticised the ECN for not marketing its discoveries at the various trade fairs in the country.

He said, “I cannot remember seeing your stands at the various trade fairs in Lagos, Kaduna, and Enugu.

“Place emphasis on exhibitions of your findings so that people will be aware of your findings; there is Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission.

“Also, partner with them and give them your findings so that they can help you propagate your findings. Talk to the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, the National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture and Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria and other bodies.”

The minister also challenged the agency to improve on its performance so as to assist in the delivery of 6000 mega watts of electricity by the end of the year.

Yar‘Adua had during his inauguration as president instituted a seven-point agenda, with which he hoped to transform Nigeria.

These are power and energy; food security and agriculture; wealth creation and employment; mass transportation; land reform; security; and qualitative and functional education.

He had added the Niger Delta and the disadvantaged groups as two special interest issues also to be focused on.

By making power and energy the first of the seven- point agenda, he said focus in that area would be on infrastructural reforms through the development of sufficient and adequate power supply to ensure Nigeria‘s ability to develop as a modern economy and an industrial nation by the year 2015.

Accordingly, he promised that more than 30,000 mega watts of electricity would be realised in the first five years of the administration, and assured that the ongoing reforms in the power sector would be sustained.

“Our plan is to launch a national emergency programme on the power sector because we believe that there cannot be any meaningful industrial development without steady power supply,” he said.

Yar’Adua had announced at a media chat in December 2007 that he would declare a national emergency on energy and power, to get Nigeria out of economic predicament, since power was the tonic for industrial growth.

The President expressed hope that power supply would rise to 10,000MW before the end of 2008.

He gave the assurance that the proposal was feasible, because the country needed to achieve at least 30,000MW in 2011 and 50,000MW by 2015.

He argued that improvement in power generation capacity would facilitate Nigeria‘s efforts in industrialisation and move the country from a consumer nation to a productive one.

However, more than 18 months afterwards, none of the promises has yielded fruits. If anything, the situation has grown from bad to worse with power generation dropping to less than 2,000MW in August 2008.

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