Two things are certain; Nigeria’s major problem is electricity; its production, distribution and utilization. There is also no gain in making the above declaration as it is apparent to everyone who has at least a passing interest in Nigeria.
On 13th July, 2016, during an inspection of the 215MW Dual Fire Kaduna Power Plant, Babatunde Raji Fashola, Nigeria’s Minister for Works, Power and Housing announced that the power plant cited in Kaduna’s Kudenda area will be completed in the second quarter of 2017. More precisely in June.
The importance of this plant is in the fact that when completed it will effectively provide good quality electric power for most of Kaduna’s textile industries, thereby reviving them and creating thousands of jobs in the process.
Fashola’s declaration was the easy part.
There was no talk of the intense lobbying it took to bring Federal attention to this project, or the very draining efforts to ensure effective electricity distribution by taking smaller communities off the national grid and providing them with solar options that provide even cleaner electricity. Or when the state decided to source funds for the project completion itself, this search eventually culminated in obtaining a N7.5billion CBN intervention fund which has been reserved and will be appropriately utilized in the completion of the project.
The Kaduna State Government in all its efforts has been ambitious and determined to see that the power project is completed and it provides the electricity the state so badly needs. Kaduna State requires about 1000mw to run efficiently but it currently receives slightly above 200mw. This is a problem that the State has identified as dangerous for the kind of development it needs.
To understand the reason behind the urgency to get this project attention, you need to understand the circumstances surrounding the project itself.
The contract itself was awarded in 2009 with an expected completion time of 36 months, but delays due to inadequate budgetary allocations by the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan led administration ensured that this project with the capacity to revive a whole industry and create thousands of jobs was left abandoned.
The harmful message that Governments send when they do not prioritize projects capable of reviving Nigeria’s largely dead and buried manufacturing industry is that ‘it really doesn’t matter if Nigeria and its states don’t produce things’. And this message is as detrimental as it is false.
What Governors like el-Rufai prove when they ensure projects like these are completed and fully functional is that they are willing to fight for their people, to ensure that jobs are created and the societies they leave behind are self- sufficient. This is the way states should be run.
Beyond Kaduna alone, electricity is a fundamental part of manufacturing and completing a 215mw power plant in Kaduna means that factories from Kano to Sokoto will be operational and jobs will be protected. It also means that students from Nigeria’s South to its North will have improved electricity for those nights when they have to study.
The agricultural sector of the economy will also benefit tremendously, as electricity is vital for the preservation of harvested crops complete with the availability of irrigation systems that benefit dry season farming.
A case must be made nationwide for bold, fearless leaders who confront our challenges and proffer solutions. There is no place for weak, timid leaders in a Nigeria that seeks to progress and we must all know this.
It is going to take boldness to fix Nigeria and a thing or two can be learnt from Mallam Nasir el-Rufai and the ambitious measures his government adopts.
Adejoh Idoko Momoh writes from Kaduna, Nigeria. He can be reached on email@example.com and tweets from @Adejoh