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Minister Upbeat On Overcoming Power Sector Challenges

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SAN FRANCISCO, February 12, (THEWILL) – Newly-sworn in Minister of Power, Prof Chinedu Nebo, has stated that though the challenges in the sector were great, they are not insurmountable.

He disclosed that the problems facing transmission of electricity to Nigerians were not enough to frustrate the goal of the Federal Government in delivering the commodity to every citizen within the shortest time possible..

Nebo stated these, Tuesday,  at the close of the meeting of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) presided over by Vice President Muhammad Namadi Sambo at the State House, Abuja.

His words of assurance  came as the Benue State governor, Gabriel Suswam, expressed the hope that once transmission picks up in earnest, his state, which has not been connected to the national grid since its creation 38 years ago, will also begin to benefit.

Nebo disclosed that  the Federal Government was already working round the clock to link many parts of the country to the national grid before the end of the year. He stressed that  solutions were being sought to other myriad of problems that are militating against the efforts targeted at  providing power to Nigerians.

 “A lot is already happening. There has been series of meetings. This one is not an exception. It is very likely that by the end of the year, there will be a remarkable improvement. With regards to generation, Nigeria is moving ahead by leaps and bounds.

“What we have as a problem that is very significant is the transmission, to be able to evacuate what is being generated and what we anticipate will be an addition to the grid towards the end of the year. We are working on that and today's meeting is addressing some of those issues,” the minister stated.

He said  with the level of enthusiasm expressed by the president regarding the transformation that must take place in the sector, "I don't have any fear."

According to Nebo, "Quite a bit of our problems are not insurmountable. The problems are very enormous, very challenging but we have the will, the dexterity and the support of the President who is very keen on ensuring that the power sector issue is put behind us.”

Speaking on what  has been done so far by the Federal  Government, the minister said “ things are happening,” noting that  “in the past couple of months, we have been able to generate and put in the system the transmission much more power than in the past."

He added: " We are continuing with that gradual growth and hopefully, when the whole issue of power transmission is addressed, there will be a sporadic increase in the amount of power available to our people.”

On Tuesday’s meeting,  Nebo said “It was a very brief meeting and hopefully by the time we meet again, issues relating to the National Independent Power Project (NIPP) and NDPHC will go a lot further in finding solutions to the problems that we have at the moment.”

On the problem with Benue State, Governor Suswam said his government was anticipating that the Federal Government will augment its 132 KVA transmission line, which was provided by his administration.

Maintaining that his administration  has done a lot in the area of providing electricity to the rural areas of the state, Suswam  explained that “Recently,  we upgraded to132 KVA transmission line. I have done a lot on rural electrification and that has drastically improved the power situation in Benue. But with the 330 KVA and with the sub-station in Benue, I believe that it will address a lot of problems.”

He said the  issues of compensation will not deter the progress of work being carried out by the NDPHC, assuring  that  the  issues  can be handled by the management of the NDPHC.

 “There are issues of way leave and I think the MD of Niger Delta Holding company is in a better position to discuss the issues of way leave but as of the last meeting, held  sometimes last year, monies were approved so that these compensation can take place and for now I don’t know of any community within Benue that is agitating for compensation because that has been adequately taken care of.

"Now work is progressing. On your way to Benue if you drive from Abuja, when you get to Akwanga,  from Akwanga down up to Benue, you will see that the companies are working. I don't think we have any issues or agitations from communities within Benue,” he said.

It would be recalled that The last NDPHC meeting was held a fortnight ago where  the issue of generation was discussed.

Tuesday’s meeting reviewed what happened at the last meeting and details of the direction in which the power reform embarked by the Jonathan administration, according to Suswam, is expected to  unfold next month.

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