Darkness Shattered: NDDC’s Holistic Approach Lights the Path to Prosperity in Ondo State

Pius O. Ughakpoteni

Ironically, known as the Sunshine State, Ondo State reveals a stark irony each evening. As the sun sets, it plunges very many communities in five local government areas into deep, suffocating darkness. In Okitipupa, the dwindling light casts a sad scene: a young mother, worry boldly written on her face, comforts her child with the weak glow of a candle. Shadows perform a haunting dance on the walls, reflecting the uncertainty that overwhelms her as she contends with the night’s oppressive darkness.

Just a short distance away, in Irele, silence replaces the usual buzz of activity whenever the power fails. A hopeful entrepreneur watches as his dreams fade with the workshop lights. His tools, once symbols of future success, now gather dust, stark evidence of aspirations crushed by unreliable electricity. This lack of reliable electricity casts a long shadow across the state, stifling progress and dimming the prospects of each community. This grim reality is a daily struggle for the people of Ondo State. It is a story of limits and barriers imposed by the absence of one essential service deeply ingrained in their everyday lives.

However, a new chapter is being written. The recent completion and connection of the 132/33kv electricity substation at Ode-Erinje in Okitupupa to the national grid marks a turning point. This accomplishment by the NDDC, coupled with its ongoing rehabilitation of the power distribution network across Ondo South, signifies the Commission’s unwavering commitment to illuminating the path towards a brighter future for the region. The project transcends the mere delivery of electricity; it represents a holistic approach, ensuring that the lifeblood of progress reaches every corner – homes, businesses, and vital public services. This commitment aligns perfectly with the principles enshrined in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The fruits of this intervention will soon be within reach. Imagine classrooms transformed. No longer will children grapple with textbooks in the fading light of dusk. Instead, imagine them bathed in the steady glow of electric bulbs, their faces etched with concentration as they delve into knowledge. This seemingly simple change unlocks an educational opportunity, empowering the next generation to become architects of their destinies. Once hampered by erratic power, hospitals will soon hum with the steady thrum of life-saving equipment. Essential medications can now be securely stored, ensuring that healthcare is no longer a gamble against the whims of an unreliable power grid. The dependable flow of electricity will become the bedrock of safer, healthier, and more equitable communities.

The impact extends far beyond necessities. The NDDC’s work breathes life into SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure). Local businesses, previously burdened by crippling outages or the exorbitant cost of self-generated power, can finally begin to dream big. With a stable electricity supply, these businesses can expand operations, innovate, and create a wave of job opportunities. As flickering lights are replaced by the steady hum of progress, a vibrant commercial ecosystem will take root, injecting new life into the local economy.

This transformation transcends economic empowerment; it rewrites the narrative of entire communities. Electrification acts as a powerful catalyst, shattering the isolating grip of darkness. As these once-darkened areas become illuminated and interconnected, they attract investment and foster a sense of dynamism that is the hallmark of thriving urban centers. The NDDC’s work is not just illuminating physical spaces; it is illuminating a future brimming with possibility. Ondo State is being lifted from the shadows and placed firmly on the progress map.

At the heart of this success story lies the power of collaboration, a cornerstone of SDG 17. The NDDC, acting as a conductor, has skillfully orchestrated the efforts of its own resources and expertise, contracting partners, and local stakeholders. Fueled by a shared vision, this unified effort exemplifies the transformative potential that arises when dedicated groups work together. Sir Victor Antai, NDDC Executive Director, Projects, captures the essence of this accomplishment: “This project is not just about delivering electricity. It is about fundamentally changing lives, empowering communities, and ensuring a brighter future for all.” His words resonate with the unwavering support of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the steadfast dedication of the NDDC leadership to uplift the Niger Delta region.

Hon. Otito Atikase, Ondo State Representative on the NDDC Board, understands the profound impact of this project. “For too long, our people have yearned for a path out of hardship,” he states. “This project unlocks their potential, setting the stage for long-awaited progress. Reliable electricity is the lifeblood of economic revitalization.”

Securing the longevity and expansion of this success hinges on consistent and adequate funding. Legislative support is crucial to ensure a stable flow of investment from the oil industry. This support will empower the NDDC to replicate this model of transformative development throughout the Niger Delta, expediting the region’s journey towards a truly sustainable and prosperous future.

Dr. Obafemi Ogbaro, Acting National Chairman of TROMPCON, speaks for countless residents of Ondo South when he reflects on the past. “Nothing was more desperately needed than a stable grid connection,” he says, his voice filled with relief. The darkness may have held them back for too long, but the future now burns brightly. The Ode-Erinje substation and the expanding reach of reliable power symbolize a decisive victory over the limitations imposed by a lack of opportunity. With every wire connected and every lightbulb switched on, it heralds a new era of hope and progress for the people of Ondo. The benefits of this project are not merely theoretical; they are tangible, real-world transformations reshaping lives from the ground up.

This holistic development approach, promoted by the NDDC, is essential for transforming the Niger Delta region. Picture communities throughout the Niger Delta emerging from obscurity, all energized by a consistent power supply. Imagine previously dormant industries thriving, revitalized by this fresh influx of energy. Visualize hospitals bustling with efficiency, free from the constraints of erratic generators and power cuts. Envision schools where the illumination of the classrooms matches the bright potential of the region’s young minds. This vision is not merely a hopeful dream; it represents a practical, achievable plan for a sustainable and flourishing future—an attainable future.

The NDDC’s journey has obstacles, but the benefits far outweigh any challenges. The transformation they ignite is a beacon of progress, proving what’s possible with unwavering dedication. Every kilowatt of power delivered represents more than just electricity – it signifies opportunity unleashed and dormant potential awakened. A firm legislative commitment to funding will ensure that this model can be replicated swiftly throughout the region, multiplying the impact exponentially. Each community illuminated represents a victory in the ongoing battle for a better future throughout the Niger Delta.

This story is not just about electricity; it is about unlocking the boundless potential of a dynamic region long overdue for its chance to shine. It is about creating a ripple effect of positive change – empowering entrepreneurs, improving healthcare, and educating the next generation that will propel the Niger Delta forward. The darkness is fading in Ondo State. It is time for the dawn to break across the entire region, ushering in an era of progress, innovation, and a brighter future for all.

•Pius Ughakpoteni is Director, Corporate Affairs, at the Niger Delta Development Commission

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