By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
The Federal Government said efforts have been made to deliver electricity to about 25m Nigerians whose communities are off the grid.
With the flag-off in Jigawa State, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo restated the government determination to ensure that millions of Nigerians have access to cheap and environmentally friendly renewable power.
Coming under the Economic Sustainability Plan, Prof Osinbajo said the launch of the Solar Power Naija programme was taking off with the Jangefe Community in Roni Local Government Area (in the Kazaure Emirate) of the State and will soon get to all geopolitical zones in the country.
“After Jangefe, ” according to the Vice President, the rollout will continue “across the 6 geopolitical zones in Edo, Lagos, Adamawa, Anambra, Kebbi and Plateau. Other Solar companies are also in the pipeline for the Solar Power Naija facility to continue the march to 5 million connections during the life of this administration,” the Vice President said.
According to Osinbajo, the scheme will then go to the entire 36 States and the FCT covering 25million Nigerians in the end.
He said the commencement of the Solar Power Naija programme means the community will get 1,000 Solar Home Systems connections for its about 5,000 population.
Specifically, the Vice President, flagged off the commencement of the installation in Jigawa, in what is said to be part of a 100,000 scheme with A-SOLAR, a local solar power company implementing aspects of the ESP Solar Power Naija scheme.
The Jangefe community in Jigawa, which is the first location to be covered by the A-Solar company, will pay monthly energy payments until the systems are fully paid for at the point in which there will be a transfer of ownership to each consumer in the community.
The Vice President noted that the “President had emphasised that we could no longer rely solely on the grid if we were to electrify the whole country. Which meant that we had to develop an effective strategy for decentralizing the power supply. Two obvious things to do were, first to think of implementing more off-grid solutions and to use renewable energy especially solar power.”
“Another challenge turned opportunity was Covid-19 and our response to the economic fallouts of the pandemic – the Economic Sustainability Plan. A fundamental rationale for the plan was to retain existing jobs and create new jobs. A mass solar programme seemed like a real chance to kill several birds with one stone; electrify the country and in the process, create thousands of jobs from solar assembly and manufacturing plants to installers, payment system operators, and maintenance of solar systems once installed.
“Mr. President, therefore, approved the inclusion of what came to be known as the Solar Power Naija programme in the Economic Sustainability Plan which he asked me to chair.
“The Solar Power Naija programme which is designed by the Rural Electrification Agency is an ambitious initiative that aims to create 5 million connections through a 140 billion Naira financing programme that will support private developers to provide power for 5 million households, which means providing electricity for up to 25 million Nigerians.
Prof Osinbajo further stated that the solar power programme is a public-private sector partnership supported by concessionary lending via the Central Bank of Nigeria and commercial banks.
The Vice President noted that structures have already been put in place to make the connection costs affordable for all.
“In addition to the concessionary lending rates, the Government has provided subsidies and rebates for private developers to the tune of over $200 million under the Rural Electrification Agency and World Bank Nigeria Electrification Programme. The programme incorporates several innovative solutions to increase affordability for the citizens while also providing sufficient comfort to investors and financiers alike,” he stated.
He added that Jangefe community would derive several benefits from the flag off of the programme in Jigawa State.
The Vice President commended the Jigawa State Governor, Alh. Badaru Abubakar, His Royal Highness, the Emir of Kazaure, the Emirate Council and the Local Government of Roni, as well as other critical stakeholders for their roles in ensuring the implementation of the programme in the community.
He said, “the Governor’s style of engagement and focus on economic growth and cooperation by bringing people together is one of the reasons why it was so easy to execute this project in Jigawa. This mindset and approach of the Jigawa State administration created the environment for the Local Government Authority and the Emirate Council to work in harmony with the developers to make this project a reality. This is probably why Jigawa State will continue to attract investments for the benefit of its people and the country at large.”
The Vice President also commended the Emir of Kazaure, His Royal Highness, Alhaji Najid Hussaini Adamu who made a down payment for the community to benefit from the solar connections. Prof Osinbajo said not only was this a good example, but it also facilitated the programme.
He also noted the diligent efforts of the Special Adviser to the President on Infrastructure, Ahmad Rufai Zakari “in coordinating with all the relevant parties to lead us to the successful launch of the programme today.”
Earlier in his remarks, Governor Abubakar Badaru commended both President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, saying the Federal Government’s support to the State and other States despite declining resources, has been unprecedented since 2015. He mentioned how the Buhari administration gave a bailout to States of the Federation to pay salaries and also the payment of the long outstanding refund from the Paris Club debts among others.
He said the solar project like many other schemes that have been implemented will positively impact the economy of the state in line with the vision of the President and his deputy.
The Governor noted that the school feeding programme and other schemes implemented by the Federal Government in the state have, aside from impacting the economy, improved school enrollment from about 600,000 to over a million since implementation.
Earlier on arrival in the State, Prof Osinbajo attended, as special guest, the turbaning of the Minister of Water Resources, Engr Suleiman Adamu as the Madakin Kazaure and Galadiman Roni. At the event, the Emir of Kazaure asked the new Galadima to provide good leadership to the people and also prayed that God will guide him in his new role.