• Says provision of off grid electricity to business clusters across Nigeria on course
By Chineme Okafor in Abuja
Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has said the federal government would provide off-grid electricity to power business clusters across the country to support them to create jobs and wealth.
The vice president stated this, yesterday, as he inaugurated a 1.5 megawatts (MW) independent mini grid power supply system to provide electricity at Sura Shopping Complex in Lagos.
The off-grid electricity was developed by a private operator – Solad Power Holdings, from the Island Power Plant in Marina, through a dedicated underground distribution network infrastructure.
The Sura mini grid power system was initiated by the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) under the Energising Economy Initiative (EEI) of the federal government which is aimed at providing off grid electricity to business clusters across Nigeria.
The off grid system has reportedly taken out 700 generators out of operation in Sura, reduced harmful greenhouse emissions and noise pollution, and provided gas-fired electricity to 1,047 shops in the mall for up to 70 days since it kicked-off.
According to Osinbajo, many other markets across the country are slated to benefit from the EEI. “This is a very special federal government project and one of the reasons why this project is particularly important is because it tells us what can be done. It tells us what is possible, and so much is possible. There are several other markets that we are going to.
“The reason why we are going to the markets is because we believe that small businesses hold the future, they are the future of the Nigerian economy and we must support the small and medium enterprises,” the vice president explained.
While inaugurating the mini grid system, Osinbajo said that societal factors such as tribes or religious affiliations should not be determinants of elections and governance in Nigeria, stating clearly that Nigerians should rather consider voting for people who cared about advancing the country and providing good solutions to its challenges.
According to him, corrupt practices were Nigeria’s major problem and often perpetrated by all the tribes and religious groups in the country.
He asked Nigerians to ignore people who often ask them to vote along tribal or religious lines, adding that the battle for the soul of the country was between good and bad people.
“Sometimes, we have to stop and ask ourselves if our country is able to provide for all of us, does this country have the capacity to provide for all its citizens education, healthcare and all that? I think we have the capacity.
“The only problem is that we, as individuals, must be able to say that we will not stand and see people stealing the resources of this country. Corruption is by far the biggest problem we have in this country,” said Osinbajo.
He then stated: “The issues in this country are very straightforward. They are not issues of tribe or religion. Don’t ever be deceived by those who tell you it is about tribe or religion, it is not true.
“Every time I look at the chart of people who have stolen money, I find Christians and Muslims. I find people from the South East; South West; North Central; and North East. There is no tribe or religion when people are stealing money. Let there be no tribe or religion when we are trying to improve our country, when we are trying to do well for our country.
“I want to urge you all to always remember that the battle for the soul of this country is a battle between good and evil. It is not a battle between ideologies. Those who want to make progress for this country and those who want to corner the resources of this country is what this is all about, and I hope that you keep that in mind all the time,” Osinbajo added.
In her remarks, the Managing Director of REA, Damilola Ogunbiyi stated that the mini grid power system has improved electricity supply to the ultra-modern complex located in Lagos.
According to her, Sura has over 11 different businesses which include printing and branding; financial services; equipment maintenance; catering and tailoring services that now benefit from about 1.5MW.
Ogunbiyi, explained that with the completion of three pilot projects to electrify 50,000 shops in Sabon Gari Market – Kano State; Ariaria Market – Abia State; and Sura Shopping Complex – Lagos, another 13 markets across the country were now expected to benefit from the EEI.
She added that over the next five years, the EEI which is fully funded by the private sector, would reach 500,00 small businesses within 350 economic centres.