WHEN the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua on November 1, 2007 laid the foundation stone for the construction of the 140 megawatts Aba power plant to be constructed by a private power company, Geometric Power Systems Limited, at the plant site in Osisioma-Ngwa, Abia State, not many Nigerians believed that the project would materialize.
This was due to the persistent crises that had accompanied power sector reforms in the country and thrown vast parts of the country into perpetual darkness for years. It is a development which had grounded many industries and discourage foreign investors from investing in the country.
The project, according to its designs, was expected to be commissioned in April 2009, but will be now commissioned next month, as deadlines were shifted to accommodate contingencies and tackle challenges. GPSL which was owned by former Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji initiated and commenced the construction of the model power plant with an intention to serve the industrial hub within the Aba-Port Harcourt axis.
Most industries in the area have gone into extinction owing to poor power supply by the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, and so constructing a model integrated power plant like this one in Aba was not only a good business initiative, but also good move to save the economy of the South East region from total collapse.
As the power plant is set to take off, kudos must go to the brain behind this noble project, an illustrious son of Igbo land, Prof. Nnaji, for believing in the country called Nigeria, despite the disappointment and humiliations he has suffered in it. Also to be commended for making the project a reality is the Abia State Government under the leadership of Governor Theodore Ahamuefuna Orji whose administration provided enabling and secured environment for the project to be executed.
The company encountered a lot of challenges in the area while constructing the project. Top among the challenges was the problem of insecurity which was occasioned by the kidnapping menace that crept into the state then. The menace compelled workers of the company at the site to flee out fear of being kidnapped. This was at a time notorious and politically-motivated kidnappers took over the commercial city of Aba and its environs in a desperate bid to ground governance in the state. Work was brought to a halt at the site, while commercial activities were grounded as residents fled to places of safety. There were calls for a state of emergency to be declared in the state by some people, including opposition politicians in the state and the then President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr Joseph Dauda (SAN) whose state ,Kogi, is now on fire over insecurity and killings.
Orji’s government boldly tackled the kidnapping challenges by providing all the needed logistics for the security agencies in the state to dislodge the rampaging kidnappers and restore normalcy in the area. So it was not surprising when security agents cornered and gunned down the leader of the kidnapping gang in the area, Mr Obioma Nwankwo aka Osisikankwu in a gun battle and flushed out his co-kidnappers in the state.
That was how normalcy was restored to the area and the power company continued with the project.
So it is thanks to the ability of the state government to restore peace and security that the power plant has become a reality; the reality that will pave way for the return of the lost glory of Abia State. Ahead of the commissioning of the power plant, the state government has already completed the Osisioma Ngwa- Geometric road making access to the project site easy for the company workers and other communities around the area.
Fulfilling her promise during the rainy season last year, the state government had since the end of last year commenced massive rehabilitation and reconstruction of many federal and state roads in Aba. The roads include Azikiwe Road, Cemetery Road, Milverton Avenue, Eziukwu/ Okigwe round about, Ama Ogbonnaya, Nwala by Faulks Road to Brass Junction, linking Aba Owerri Road, Ngwa Road, Ohanku Road, Eemelogu Road (completed but awaiting drainage) Ehere Road, Omoba Road, Umuola Road, Ikot-Ekpene Road from Opobo junction to Bata, Omuma by ACCN, Nwigwe by Nwagba Avenue, geometric access road, and Aba-Port Harcourt Road. The development is already boosting commercial activities in the city with massive influx of business projects ahead of the Geometric power plant take off.
Apart from that, it would be recalled that the Orji-led government had last year partnered the Federal Government to evacuate power from the 132 power station in Ohiya Umuahia. Since the commissioning of the project, there has been steady power supply in Umuahia and its environs.
This has made the state government’s rehabilitation of the Umuopara Regional Water Scheme a possibility as the water scheme has since commenced operation, providing clean water for the residents of the state capital and its surrounding communities. Also, the medium and small-scale industries and several artisans in the state capital who were before now off business due to epileptic power supply have re-opened shops and business is booming.
The belief is that with the take off the Geometric power plant, Aba will surely become a haven for investment as all the ailing industries in the commercial city will be revived and employment opportunities created.
ROMANUS UWA, a medical practitioner, wrote from Aba, Abia State.