By Musa Adamu
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, has described the 450MW Azura independent power plant as a proof of federal government’s commitment to improving power generation and experience for the purpose of diversifying the nation’s economy.
He stated this at the weekend when he inspected the project in Benin, Edo state.
Fashola said it was also a statement of “very clear intent” about the commitment by President Muhammadu Buhari to fulfill his promise of improving power generation.
The Minister, who also described the project as a statement about the commitment of the administration “to do everything it can to enable the private sector to deliver on its own specialty which is to make investments such as this,” pointed out that the description was in the context that the project was facing very many approval difficulties before President Buhari came into office in 2015.
Recalling his first visit to the project, when, according to him, the foundation was being laid, Fashola stated that between then and his current visit, the Azura IPP and other surrounding communities had transformed.
He said: “The members of the communities who are providing water, food and all sorts of services to the workers who are here, have experienced a new economy.”
Other benefits that have accrued to the communities as a result of the project, the Minister said, include facelifts to the roads leading to the project noting that even the road works the government was undertaking from the Benin- Agho road was affected by the development as, according to him, the drive time was shorter than when he first visited in 2016.
Thanking the development partners, JV Siemens and Azura as a brand, for its commitment and belief in the nation’s economy, Fashola also noted, as another benefit, that over 1,500 Nigerians worked on the project.
“This is one of the Power Plants; Katsina will happen and so will Kashimbila and quite a lot of others at different levels. Some of them may not be too visible in terms of Mini-grids which are being installed in the villages and communities to increase access to electricity. So we mean business and we are moving.”
The Minister also visited the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) owned 460MW National Integrated Power Plant (NIPP) in Ihovbor and the 330/132KV transmission substation evacuation facilities in Benin North where he was told that, although, the two lines with 1,000MW carrying capacity, would not have the capacity to carry the power from Azura, the company was currently constructing another line from the Ihovbor transmission station to Benin North to join the line coming from Onitsha in order to carry the power generated by the Azura Plant.
NDPHC Managing Director, Mr. Chiedu Ugbo, who conducted the Minister round the facility, told him, “The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) are building two new 330KV lines out of Benin North that will connect the station to the grid at Ajaokuta 330KV Substation in Kogi while NDPHC is also building a 330KV line out of Benin North that will connect the station to the grid at the two locations namely the nearby Old Benin Main Substation and Onitsha 330/132KV Substation in Anambra State.
“In order to ensure that we transport power from the Benin Generation Company which is different from Azura, we are constructing another line from this transmission station to Benin Mains and then join the line coming from Onitsha. So that will enable us transport additional power from here and ensure that the power generated by Azura and from here we will be able to put on the grid for the benefit of Nigerians. It will happen and on time.”