By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA — THE Federal Government has been urged to boost rural electrification in the face of economic downturn, as this will bring about unprecedented grassroots development and industrialisation to boost the rural economy and drastically reduce rural-urban migration.
The Vice Chairman, Tonwei Refinery Nigeria Ltd, Dr. Thaddaeus Thompson, who said this at the weekend, also urged the government to come up with a downward review of tariff for the rural dwellers.
He said: “Nigerian government both at the state and federal levels may hesitate to advance electrification to rural areas for fear it would be costly, unreliable, wasteful, and to some degree unnecessary.
“The reason it has never worked in Nigeria is not because Nigerians cannot pay; it is because the lack of electrification in rural areas eliminates the possibility of rural development and industrialisation, forcing people to flee the rural areas and congest the cities and subsequently creating short supply of electricity.
“The absence of electrification cost the government millions of Naira in revenues monthly, which would have been revenue from small and home-base businesses. Electrification of rural areas has environmental benefits in many ways including the possibility to establish a waste recycling plant, which could create jobs and produce fertilizer and renewable energy for the entire region.
“The fact that electrification of urban areas has proved unsuccessful does not mean the government must relent on electrification of the rural areas. Electrification carries far greater benefits for the government than the cost of supply.”
He argued that government could minimise cost by embarking on renewable energy such as solar power, and reposition its expectations on return to long-term benefits. He added that once an area is powered, it would be prepared to pay to sustain it, as demand will respond reciprocally.
He also urged the government to consider the health of rural dwellers by providing massive rural electrification projects in order to prevent terminal diseases and various environmental hazards by providing.