Chineme Okafor in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that between March and July 2016, a space of five months, the activities of militants in the Niger Delta region resulted to Nigeria’s transmission system experiencing up to 16 system collapses.
Buhari stated that the incidences were in contrast to two collapses he said were recorded between June and December 2015, a space of six months. He said the government was unhappy with the development and making efforts to find a lasting solution to the grievances of the militants.
Speaking during his Independence Day address in Abuja, the president also disclosed that work on the over 3000 megawatts (MW) Mambilla hydro power project will take off this year, with contract negotiations between Nigeria and China on the project nearing completion.
He also explained that government was moving things around for the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) to complete critical projects that could give power supply to rural Nigerians, farmers, cottage industries and small scale businesses.
“There were only two system collapses between June and December 2015, but due to vandalism by Niger Delta militants the over-all system suffered 16 system collapses between March and July 2016 alone.
“As I have said earlier, we are engaging with responsible leadership in the region to find lasting solutions to genuine grievances of the area but we will not allow a tiny minority of thugs to cripple the country’s economy,” said Buhari.
He said with regards to Nigeria’s policy shift on her energy mix and start of Mambilla: “In the meantime, government is going ahead with projects utilising alternate technologies such as hydro, wind, and solar to contribute to our energy mix.
“In this respect, the Mambilla hydro project, after many years of delay is taking off this year. Contract negotiations are nearing completion with Chinese firms for technical and financial commitments.”
“The project is to be jointly financed by Nigeria and the Chinese-Export-Import Bank. In addition, fourteen solar power projects have had their power purchase agreements concluded. Hence the plan to produce one thousand two hundred megawatts of solar electricity for the country would be realised on schedule,” he added.
On the REA, the president stated: “And in line with the objective of government to complete all abandoned projects across the country, the Rural Electrification Agency’s projects needing completion are provided for in the 2016 budget. Bringing electricity to rural areas will help farmers, small scale and cottage industries to integrate with the national economy.”