By Emeka Mamah
ENUGU—THERE was excitement in Enugu last week, following the report that the Federal Government had chosen the Simang Group of South Africa to work along with the state government to revive coal industry for the benefit of the South East geopolitical zone.
The Simang nvestors who visited Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi at the Government House, Enugu, hinted that the principal objective of the investment drive was to use coal to generate electricity and then spin a chain of allied business activities for the benefit of Ndigbo and Nigeria as a whole.
An elated Governor Ugwuanyi who received the investors led by Dr. Odilim Enwegbara of the Pan Africa Group and Stephen Paddy, chairman of the Simang Group, said that he had always believed that coal would be a major catalyst that would kick-start the economic development of outh-ast in particular and the country in general.
He said,“We have always been hopeful that coal will once again play a major role in the economic development of the country. It would generate employment for our people. It will enhance the growing profile of Enugu State. The move will help provide alternative and more vital sources of power generation in the country. Our opportunity to actualise the dream has come. This meeting offers Enugu State government the opportunity to establish a relationship with the Simang Group.
“The move to revitalise the Enugu coal industry is in line with the current power sector reforms initiated by President Muhammadu Buhari.”
He further said that although Enugu was called the Coal City State, “we believe it is the time for Enugu to become a Coal City State in the true sense of it.”
Also, speaking on the occasion, Director-General of the Voice of Nigeria, VON, Chief Osita Okechukwu, corroborated the governor, explaining that he was there “to deliver the message that President Buhari made a pledge on January 10, 2016 that “we are going to revive coal in Enugu.”
Okechukwu said,“It commences today because he delegated his Minister for Solid Minerals, Dr Kayode Fayemi to examine all the contracting firms which have shown interest in the offer but from all surveys, the Federal Government says that Simang Group should be given the chance.
“It should be noted that we are very committed to developing Enugu State and we encourage Governor Ugwuanyi’s administration to partner with Simang and we know you have the capacity to cooperate with them in this instance.”
Chairman of the Simang Group, Mr Paddy, said that on their own part, the intervention would certainly change the narrative of electric power generation in the country in general but particularly in the South Eastern region.
Paddy further said that, “from the South African perspective, I am interested in ensuring that I facilitate trade and investment, when there is need for Nigerians to use their natural resources to curtail the challenges that the country is facing to make sure that the economic development within the country is achieved.
“We are here to give them all the support required, with the normal support we have from the federal government of Nigeria. South African Simang is here to make sure that we give Nigerians all the support that is required from us, and we have received all the support from the Federal Government here; as we have been meeting with the Minister for Solid Minerals.”
Also speaking, Dr. Odlim Enwegbara stated that as investors, they clearly understood the challenges and were determined to commence operations as soon as possible. “We can convey the little resource into the much needed electricity,” he added.