The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has been doing so much within a relatively short time in office, and has continued to fulfill his electoral promises to Edo people, albeit quietly without making any noise about them. Just try hold him to account on any issue, Obaseki will give a good account of himself anytime any day.
Early this year, I wrote an article titled ” Tackling Electricity crisis in Edo.” I stated inter alia “all tiers of government must not rest until electricity is supplied to Nigerians at affordable costs. There is no justification why Japan and China would continue to flood our markets with generators just because we can’t solve this problem for ourselves. Now that the Federal Government is interested in Nigerians consuming made in Nigerian goods, methinks the start point is made in Nigeria electricity, not made in Japan or made in China! We need locally generated electricity distributed 24/7 to all residents. This is a non-negotiable demand from Nigerians to all tiers of government in this new year, 2017.”
Of all the tiers of government targeted with the article, only the Edo State government has given a pragmatic response, as in less than three months, they have swung into action to address the key issue raised in my treatise.
The idea behind my article were twofold: First, it was to vent my anger over the extremely poor power supply during the last yuletide season and secondly; to hold the Edo State Governor to account on his electoral promise. Mr. Godwin Obaseki, during his campaigns promised to add 450 megawatts of electricity to the national grid by 2017 to boost electricity supply in the state.
He made the promise while addressing the Igbo Community Union in Benin during the campaigns and said the 450mw would be generated from the ongoing Azura Power Plant which the APC administration attracted to the state. When completed, the power plant would not only boost business in the state, but increase the number of small and medium enterprises.
In the exact words of Mr. Godwin Obaseki: “We have moved away from the era of politics of sharing to the era of politics of development. Oil money is no longer available for sharing and so there is a need to elect a leader capable of marshaling ways for development aside oil money. When we invest to boost agriculture, businesses in the state will also be boosted with an additional 450mw of electricity with the completion of Azura Power Plant,”
In my article published in January this years, I advised the governor to follow through with his commitment to make the 450mw of electricity available to the national grid this year, so that residents of Benin City and indeed Edo State, can have regular electricity supply. My exact words: “Mr. Obaseki should make electricity supply across the length and breadth of the state his first priority towards developing the state. I strongly believe that this is what would trigger development and job creation as he has already reasoned.”
Interestingly, the news media were awash last week with the hot news that the state Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has, assured residents of the state that a section of the state would, in the next six months, begin to enjoy 24 hours electricity supply following a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, between the state government and an Independent Power Project, IPP, to generate five megawatts of electricity.
The Governor reportedly gave the assurance while flagging off the National Industrial Skills Development Programme, NISDP, a collaborative effort between the state government and the Industrial Training Fund, ITF, to train 500 youths in the state on Information Communication Technology, fashion design, pastry, welding and fabrication.
Represented by the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Osarodion Ogie, the governor said the IPP company had started construction, assuring that in six months, some of the trainees would have become entrepreneurs and would utilise the 24 hours electricity supply to boost their businesses.
The governor’s representative’s exact words: “In six months, Edo State Government intends to provide 24 hours electricity to some sections of the state and this will be made possible through the MoU signed with an IPP company which has already started construction. Some of you will become employers of labour. You will begin to run shifts for 24 hours, having people working for you day and night”.
In my considered opinion, this is yet another electoral promise being kept by the government within the first one year in office. Regular supply of electricity has remained a major hindrance to national growth and development and Edo State being a part of the larger Nigerian society has had more than its fair share of poor electricity supply. But the state government which has promised turning the state into the industrial hub of the nation cannot fulfill such an ambitious promise without constant power supply.
It is obvious that the planned constant supply of electricity would lead to more businesses and consequently show the way to employment which would create wealth and boost tax collection. Mr. Obaseki’s plans to create a minimum of 200,000 jobs and boost agricultural production in the state will then be fully guaranteed.
It remains incontrovertible that the Obaseki-led administration’s dream for the state which included having entrepreneurs and skilled people, who would be able to set up their own businesses and become employers of labour can only be achieved with constant power supply.
The Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) must be prepared to swing into action to complement the efforts of the state government to improve electricity supply in the state. The set target date should be made realistic by the electricity generating and distribution companies without any act of sabotage from any one of them. It is important to sound this note early enough because once Edo people see the efforts made by government to boost electricity supply and any of the companies poses as obstacle, such a company will surely be on its own! It is sure to incur the wrath of the people because the consciousness around the issue of electricity supply is very high in Edo. It is my sincere prayers that we do not get to that extent, but that the plans of the government to provide round the clock electricity would sail through without any sabotage or hitches as scheduled.
Mr. Dan Owegie is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Edo State