Dissecting Jedy 's Efforts Towards Improved Power Supply, Job Creation In Cross River

Honourable Minister of State for Power, Goddy Jedy Agba, OFR

Inadequate power supply is one of the challenges militating against the growth and development of Nigeria. Since Nigeria 's return to democratic rule in 1999, the country has spent roughly over %$20 billion to resolve electricity issue.

While the country is yet to achieve nation wide 24-hour power supply, there's a remarkable change and improvements under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. Just five days ago, the country hits a historic transmission height of 5,801.60 Megawatts at a frequency of 50.09Hz.

Also, under the Buhari administration, more rural communities and tertiary institutions that hitherto had no access to electricity or suffered epileptic power supply are now enjoying steady power supply. In the past three weeks alone, the Minister of State for Power, Goddy Jedy Agba, OFR, has seen to the commissioning of three solar power plants in three states ; Bauchi, Edo and Delta. 

The projects which were three amongst many others further demonstrates the commitment of the Buhari's administration towards ensuring that Nigeria achieves nation wide access to clean, steady and  reliable electricity supply. 

Clearly, there's a revolution going on in the power sector and no part of the country would be left out. For instance, Cross River State where the Minister of State for Power comes from has been strategically positioned to benefit massively from the Federal government largesse in the power reforms with a number of interventions and initiatives.

As the cliché goes, charity begins at home, the Minister, although a detribalized Nigerian who understands that his scope of operation and responsibility is not limited to Cross River alone has and is doing everything within his powers to ensure that his people feel his impact as their representative in the federal executive council. 

Across the three Senatorial districts of the state, the Minister has strategically designed workable plans that would ensure a massive improvement in power supply in the state. 

There are also some urgent interventions that the Minister has carried out quietly without noise over the past few months. For instance, he recently facilitated the donation of high standard tranformer to the University of Calabar. The University is now enjoying improved power supply, thanks to the efforts of the Minister. 

Also, in his country home in Obudu, the Nkerira - Ukpirinyi axis have been enjoying improved power supply, thanks to the transformer he donated last year when what they had got burnt due to excess load. For Ukwutia and Ukpada that have not had light for years, the Minister has concluded plans to send them transformers, as well as, replace some damaged metric cables in the next few months. 

The Minister is leaving no stone unturned in ensuring that the issue of poor electricity supply in the three Senatorial districts of the state become a thing of the past. Despite having limited agencies under him as Minister of State, he has gone beyond his bounds to ensure that he negotiate favorable deals that will result in improved power supply. 

One of such deals is his insistence that five per cent (5%) of what the Odukpani power plant generates be transmitted to Calabar and its environs. The power plant has the capacity to generate 561MW but it's currently generating an average of 234mw. The 5% of what it generates now in average is 11.7mw which is enough to power the whole of Calabar, the host community and their environs.

Unfortunately, this offer has not been accepted by the Cross River State government because it's seen as a threat to the state owned power plant. The Minister and the leadership of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company, the federal government's institution in charge of the plant have made concerted efforts to get the state authorities to accept the offer but all have hit the bricks wall.

The offer which the Minister is still pushing is still available and the state can decide to accept it anytime. 

Similarly, with the ongoing efforts of the federal government to expand the generating capacity of the Odukpani plant to transmitted power to Kano State, the Minister has convinced the developers of the project to have a step down around Obubra-Ikom axis in Cross River Central Senatorial district.

All the necessary paperwork for this have been signed and the work which is expected to be completed before the end of this year is ongoing. When completed, it'll improve power supply in Obubra, Ikom, Boki, Etung and other areas. 

In his home Senatorial district, the Minister is also not sleeping over their plights. Last year, he facilitated the restoration of power supply in Bekwarra local government after six years of being in darkness. Although, there are concerns that some parts of the local government are still in darkness, he is working to see that these challenges which other parts of the Senatorial district are also facing can be addressed.

Some of the efforts to achieve that include lobbying relevant authorities to add Obudu and Bekwarra to the areas that the soon-to-be commissioned Kashimbila hydro power plant will supply electricity to.

The $120m hydro power project is located in Takum in Taraba State, close to Wukari. The plant is expected to supply light to Takum, Wukari, Yandev to Gkoko where Obudu and Bekwarra will connect from. The project is 99 per cent complete and is set for commissioning. When it commences operation, it would drastically boost the electricity supply to the areas from the national grid.

Also, the Minister has moved to resolve the epileptic power supply in Ogoja-Yala axis by negotiating the transmission of electricity  from the National grid through Ebonyi state and not Enugu as it currently is. 

One of the issues identified by the Minister concerning the Ogoja/Yala axis is that even when there's electricity, it's usually in low voltage. To address the issue, the Minister has opened negotiation with the Ebonyi state government to grant access for the transmission. 

The negotiation was initially tough owing to the incessant communal clashes between some parts of Yala and Ebonyi, but because of the Minister's relationship with the Governor, everything is going on smoothly and hopefully, before the end of the second quarter of 2021, the change will be done.

For Obanliku local government which majority communities are not connected to the National grid, the Minister has facilitated the construction of solar energy infrastructures in different parts of the local government. One of such projects is the Obudu Ranch Resorts solar power plant which is designed to supply 24-hour electricity to 500-700 homes. The project is almost ready for commissioning. 

There's also the Japan International Cooperation Agency(JICA) sponsored solar power project to be installed in some parts of Obanliku to supply light to Utanga, Amana, some parts of Sankwala, Bottom Hill, etc. Equipment for the installation of the plants have long been mobilized to various projects locations. 

The progress of the work in some locations have been delayed due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic which caused the expertriats sent by the Japanese government to be evacuated back to their country. They're to return to complete the project once the pandemic eases out. 

These projects especially the solar power infrastructure are designed to create no fewer than 200 jobs during and after completion.

Notwithstanding, the Minister has also moved to revive the Calabar Export Processing Zone (EPZ) by getting the federal executive council 's approval for the financing for the construction of a power plant in the zone. 

The EPZ which is the evacuation corridor for export commodities for the State and neighboring states has been greatly underutilized. Many companies that were operating in the area folded up due to inadequate power supply. 

But now, with the approval granted by FEC, when the power plant is complete, all the companies that flee and more will return to the commercial area. This development will also translate into creation of thousands of jobs for Cross Riverians.

There are many more other programmes especially solar energy projects that the Minister has earmarked for the State.

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