By Daniel Idonor
THE Federal Government on Monday conceded that the recently-granted amnesty by President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua to militants in the Niger-Delta was the only available antidotes for achieving the targeted 6000 Megawatts promised to be delivered to Nigerians by December this year by the government.
Rising from a meeting at the office of Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan, the Presidential Steering Council on National Integrated Power projects submitted that the offer of amnesty by Yar’Adua and its acceptance by the militants will guarantee a more regular supply of power in the country as it would ensure a full return of peace to the troubled region.
Gas supply to the various multi-billion naira turbines/NIPP power plants built across the country has in the recent past become the governmentâ€™s headache, as all the pipelines, through which gas is expected to flow to these facilities, which in turn generate the needed electricity for the country, are in the absolute control of the militants.
Addressing State House correspondents after yesterdayâ€™s meeting chaired by Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan, Minister of State Power, accompanied by Governor Segun Oni of Ekiti State and Theodore Orji of Abia State, reiterated governmentâ€™s position that peace in the Niger Delta will guarantee regular power supply to Nigeria; since it would result in an uninterrupted supply of quality gas to power electricity turbines across the country.
â€œWe are hoping as the amnesty is unfolding, peace in Niger Delta and the damage pipes now will be put back in functional application very shortly so that we can have enough gas to generate the required capacity,â€ the minister said.
Way disclosed that following the epileptic supply of gas to the power generation turbines, government turned attention to the use of hydro power generating stations for power generation; noting that the pressure on the hydro stations have resulted in the drastic reduction of water in the dams – a development he said led to the shutting down of some of the generating plants.
According to him, â€œtodayâ€™s meeting marks a mile stone in the actualisation of the present administration programme in the actualization of 6,000mw and 10,000mw by 2011. All the approvals for the implementation of the projects between now and 2011 have been finalized today. If you want to get 10,00mw by 2011 the time to start is now and they have approved today, the remaining generation plants that were conceptualized in the phase on project. They have approved those ones. All the transmission projects that will create a complete loop so that you can wheel power right round Nigeria.
Commenting on current power supply, he said: â€œthere is improvement, each day we are improving one turbine or the other because this 6,000mw we told you is coming from our existing PHCN installations. The NIPP is not part of the 6,000mw that we are talking today and this rehabilitation we are talking today is going on day in day out and the capacity is been improved upon on the monthly basis.
He added that â€œwe approved for the second phase programme of the NIPP which will cover Omotosho and Geregu power plant and the transmission line. The council approved N15. 4b for the 8 critical PHCN transmission projects and additional $13.5m for the transmission line to Jalingo basically requiring that support work to begin to deliver are taken care of in terms of project self serving and especially the transmission requirement both from the PHCN and NIPP end.â€
Further, he said; â€œWe just thought that the funding should be taken out of it, but for the secretariat the budget is actually N1.9b. for the Omotosho and Geregu plants, the Nigerian local content we are talking of N132.6b and $801.4m and also another 2.9m pounds;â€ adding: â€œ the secretariat is domiciled in the Niger Delta Power Holding Company. This money voted for the secretariat is for salaries and operational cost for the period of one year. It is not a capital vote.â€