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Sunday, December 10, 2023

Obiano Moves To Solve Electricity Problem, Signs $150m Power Deal – By James Eze



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Gov Willie Obiano
Gov Willie Obiano


After cleansing Anambra State of all criminal elements and anti-social agents that drove prospective investors and most of the state’s illustrious citizens away, Governor Willie Obiano has finally turned his magic wand to the most difficult challenge that Nigeria has had to face in the past forty years – electricity supply.

To give impetus to his overall plan to solve the power supply problem in Anambra State, Governor Obiano, Wednesday, signed a memorandum of understanding for the building of an Independent Power Plant (IPP) in the state valued at $150m with an indigenous firm known as UD Integrated Petroleum Production Company of Nigeria Limited (UDIPPCO).  The 80 mega-watt gas-to-power plant will on completion, finally animate the constellation of cottage industries, manufacturing firms and the numerous commercial centers and markets that define the entire landscape of the state. The electricity project also brings the total volume of investments that the administration had attracted in the past four months to about $1.4bn.

Obiano’s foray into the nebulous power generation and distribution sector falls in line with his general administrative blueprint which is anchored on Agriculture, Industrialization, Trade and Commerce and Oil and Gas. Electricity falls within the category of his blueprint that he refers to as the Enablers. The Enablers are the catalyst to the eventual explosion and exploitation of the Four Pillars of his administration outlined above. In singling out the challenge of power supply, Governor Obiano has divined that the only time that Anambra would truly witness a revolution is when he repeats what he did in securing the state in the power sector. To this extent, the governor has sealed the first major pact that would actualize his dream of providing stable electricity to the people with UDIPPCO with an implementation timeline of 18 months from the date of the project implementation agreement.

The proposed power plant is expected to generate sufficient electricity for the entire state, its industrial clusters in Onitsha, Nnewi, Ozubulu and Awka as well as its many markets, hotels, hospitals, schools and residential areas.

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To signify their readiness to commence the first basic steps that will culminate in the construction of the power plant, UDIPPCO recently sealed a gas sales and purchase agreement (GSPA) with the management of Orient Petroleum which offered it a direct access to develop and utilize over 375 billion standard cubic feet of gas reserves from the Orient Block and produce it at the rate of 50 million standard cubic feet of gas per day. This will give UDIPPCO enough gas to sustain the proposed 80 MW power plant for 20-25 years or more.

From time immemorial, Anambra State has always held a definite promise as the home of industrialization in all of West Africa. The state brims with natural born entrepreneurs, industrialists and inventors whose genius has been widely acknowledged across the world. Nnewi, the first and most prominent Nigerian auto-city has pioneered auto-manufacturing in the country, starting with the production of auto-spare parts to full manufacture of automobiles. Other manufacturing activities like electric cables as well as petro-chemical products like lubricants have also been thriving in Nnewi for some time. Unfortunately, they have yet to explode on a scale that will make a real splash in the nation’s economy, principally because of such niggling challenges as the almost non-existent supply of electricity. With the proposed power plant, Governor Obiano will be unleashing the hitherto restrained kinetic entrepreneurial energy of the people to usher in a new phase of prosperity in Anambra State,

Speaking at the agreement signing ceremony, Governor Obiano pointed out that electricity supply is one of the key areas of interest to his administration. “We are beginning to address the challenge of power supply in Anambra State. This project will employ about 750 people directly and about 15,000 indirectly,” Governor Obiano explained. Speaking further, he said, “I keep re-assuring our people in the Diaspora to bring back those talents and skills that made us great in foreign lands. We have done exactly what other people have done to attract our people. They provided security and power. We have provided security and now we are about to provide power here. Those things that will make our people come home and invest are the same things we are doing here now,” he intoned.

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Meanwhile, giving assurances on the project, the Chairman of UDIPPCO, Nze Lawrence Ekwomadu explained that “between 12 and 18 months from the date of this MoU being executed today, we shall start generating and supplying steady and stable electric power in Anambra State, generated from natural gas produced within the state. Within 3 months, we shall present for your consideration and approval, our request for the land we shall acquire to situate the Central Gas Processing Facility and the power plant. Being a private investment which must be recovered and returned to the owners within a time limit, we need a peaceful and business enabling environment to build and operate the power plant. The wonderful result your Excellency has delivered on security so far gives us the confidence to come, establish and run our power plant in your state,” he declared.

Also speaking at the ceremony, the Chairman of Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA), Igwe Cyril Nwabunwanne Enweze, described the proposed power plant as a “veritable engine which will help to power various sectors of Anambra’s economy; a historic milestone and an unmistakable notice to the rest of the world that Anambra State, the Light of the Nation, has indeed arrived.”

Igwe Enweze may well be right. With Governor Obiano’s foray into power generation, Anambra State is finally on the verge of breaking into the big league of Nigeria’s frontline states.

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