The Federal Government has directed the new board of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) to provide electricity to millions of Nigerians yet to be connected to the national grid.
Mr Babatunde Fashola, the Minister of Power,Works and Housing, gave the task while inaugurating the board in Abuja on Tuesday.
Fashola said although the new members of the board had the required qualifications for the job, what mattered most was the delivery of the power to communities in the country.
“I think it is important to underline why we are here, and start with the common understanding of what our objective is; you know what is expected of you and you understand the necessity to succeed.
“Your qualifications, your experience , your achievements mean nothing, if these things do not deliver electricity to Nigerians who are in their millions and are yet to be connected to the national grid.
“When I meet legislators they tell me that their communities have never been connected and I think we can make that to be a matter of history,” he said.
Fashola said that over the years, government had tried to formulate policies and implement them, using the ministries.
He, however, said that the ministries were not necessarily well designed to formulate and implement policies at the same time.
He said many countries that had succeeded in various sectors of the economy had created separate agencies to help implement the policies of government.
“This is our policy we want a set of people to go and implement so that they don’t get distracted with bureaucracy .
“Yes government has a policy for rural electrification, access to electricity for as many people as is possible; your responsibility is to go and achieve that,” the minster maintained.
He said that the Federal Government would continue to make polices and provide enabling environment for the development of the power sector.
“We will continue to provide guidance; we will continue to help you get your budget through parliament; we will break down barriers for you, but really and truly, it is you who will do the work,” Fashola said.
He expressed expectation that the new board would build on the legacy of the past management of REA, adding that the purpose of the agency was to provide electricity to Nigerians, especially to the rural communities.
According to him, one of the reasons responsible for the lack of electricity to many Nigerians is the high cost of connecting people, using the high tension wires.
“There are so many urban and rural communities that have not be connected to the grid and one of the reasons they have not been connected is that the high tension wires are often meant to cover many hundreds of kilometres and they are expensive to deploy to the small communities.
He, however, said that the REA would champion the connection of all unconnected communities.
The minister said that all the unconnected communities would look up to the REA to connect them, using the off grid connection.
Fashola also told the new board to focus on the implementation of grid extension policy in the rural electrification programme of government.
He said that about 2,000 grid extension projects were yet to be completed in the country, hence the need to focus on their completion.
The minster also said that the new management of REA should focus on the development of hydro dams for the provision of electricity to the rural people
He said that the construction of over 57 hydro dams was part of the anchor plan in the rural electrification programme of government.
Other areas of focus, according to him, is the development of Independent Power Plants (IPP) for the universities in the country.
He said that the envisaged development of the plants in 44 universities in the country was designed to provide electricity for the rural communities within the institutions.
He said that most of the plants due to be developed in the universities were solar-based, adding that 27 of the them had been initiated.
The minster thanked the Federal Government for appointing young people in the board of the REA.
Newsmen report that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the appointment of a new Board and Executive Management for the agency.
The new Chairman of the board is Mr Umaru Maza Maza, while the Managing Director is Mrs. Damilola Ogunbiyi.