Dike Onwuamaeze The Chairman of Geometric Power Group, Professor Bart Nnaji, has declared that Nigerians still perceive free electricity supply as their own share of the country’s proverbial national cake, despite the takeover of the running cost of power supply by private firms.
Nnaji made this observation at the weekend on his personal reflections on “One Year of Aba Power Operations,” where he stated that “the management and staff of Aba Power have done their best in the last one year to ensure that we provide the people of Abia State constant, reliable, quality and affordable power.”
He added that “many members of the public have not reconciled themselves to the fact that a private firm now provides electricity to Aba and environs, and they should, therefore, pay for it; for several of our people, free electricity supply is their own share of the proverbial national cake. Some staff members have, on occasion, been beaten up mercilessly, and their tools and vehicles seized for merely asking that people pay their bills.”Nnaji, who is a former Minister of Power, said that inasmuch “as I am the first person to acknowledge that the journey ahead is still far, we are proud of what we have achieved so far.
“Our four brand new power substations are of the highest global standard, costing us three times the amount we could have used to fix the regular type that dots the Nigerian electric power landscape. Three substations inherited from the PHCN have been refurbished.” He added that over 150,000 kilometers of overhead wires have been put in place and electricity has been restored, with massive cooperation from the Nigerian Navy, from Aba City to Owerrenta after two years of darkness.
“Places like the Aba-Owerri Road now receive power for, on average, 20 hours per day. When we took over, the LGAs we service used to receive, on average, less than 30 megawatts, but we now pick a load of up to 97.44 MW. Things are truly shaping up,” he said.
The former Minister of Power enthused that very few cities in the world “have our kind of tubular poles that can easily withstand earthquakes,” adding that “we have worked with the best in the energy sector worldwide to provide Nigerians with the best.
“In terms of staff welfare, we doubled the salaries of staff inherited from the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC). The list goes on.
“Our goal is to have a world-class company that will serve as a model in the power sector in Nigeria and beyond. This may seem impossible in the eyes of some people, but it is achievable.
“We have to stretch ourselves to achieve this goal. There is nothing the talent we have seen in Aba Power cannot achieve with the right environment and the right incentives.”
Nnaji also thanked President Muhammadu Buhari whose administration made the resolution of the nine-year dispute over the Aba Ringed Fence possible.
He said: “It is one year today since the Aba Ringed-Fence Area, comprising nine out of the 17 Local Government Areas in Abia State, was officially handed over to Aba Power Limited by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) following the amicable settlement of the dispute between the EEDC and Interstate Electrics.
“The dispute arose out of the manner in which the privatisation of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) assets was carried out in 2013 in the South-east geopolitical zone by the National Economic Council without regard to the existing agreement with the Federal Government of Nigeria and such relevant agencies as the PHCN, BPE and the Federal Ministry of Power, on the one hand, and Geometric Power Limited, on the other, on the building of a power plant in Aba as well as the distribution of electricity in Aba and environs, which was signed in 2004 and amended in 2005,” he explained.