A gubernatorial aspirant on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) platform in Enugu State and former Minister of Energy, Professor Barth Nnaji, yesterday called for collaboration between the states and the private sector that will allow the establishment of regional electricity networks for an efficient electricity supply in the country.
Nnaji, who was a guest on The Morning Show on Arise News Channel, was speaking amid the power supply issues in the country. He expressed concern that this is a capital-intensive business, hence the need for states to work with the private sector to build energy projects that would provide a steady power.
According to him, “we cannot be content with having a national control of power. You can have a national network, but there should be regional networks and there is nothing in the constitution preventing that from being in place. States do not have enough money to build their own power station except for Akwa Ibom and Rivers States and to some extent Lagos State. It’s very capital intensive, but if you have regional grids, states can now work with the private sector to build energy projects that will provide constant power.
The former Minister recalled what had been done in Aba, Abia State, saying that power generation, distribution network and infrastructure had been improved as most customers are now equipped with counters.
He added: “We are going through an aggressive measurement process. So when you have that, you have built-in generation – the power plant that delivers more than the amount of energy you need into that distribution grid. That’s what it takes to have electricity. You can have this in different places. We can have that like what we have now in Aba, and have reliable quality electricity so industries can operate and compete with their counterparts elsewhere.
Nnaji expressed concern about the high cost of electricity in the country, noting that there is no way for manufacturing companies to compete without reliable electricity, as he added that transport companies could also consider having another level of grid so they can produce more power.
Meanwhile, when asked how sacrosanct the political zoning formula was in Enugu State, the former minister said it was a deal struck by the personalities state policies and that it was working, adding that it had pretty much brought peace to the political system.
“There is no place in the constitution that says there is going to be zoning, so Senator Ike Ekweremadu can run because the constitution does not prohibit him from doing so. However, there is an agreement among the people of the state and this agreement states that we will move from Enugu East Senatorial Area to Enugu East Senatorial Area and Enugu North. This is how Senator Chimaroke Nnamani became Governor of the State in 1999 and Sullivan Chime and now Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi also became Governors. So by the number of people showing up in the Enugu East senatorial zone, you can tell that people believe in zoning.
Asked about the assurances he has obtained to step into the gubernatorial race and whether politics will distract from his independent powerhouse in Abia State, he said: “I don’t not run a government at risk Keyman. What we have done is ensure that we have people who are in leadership positions in various companies that make up our energy projects. We have a production and distribution part of the business.
“We have people who manage the energy projects, and in addition, we have operating and management companies. So I’m confident that they will be able to run the businesses with or without me, so that investors will have confidence that there are competent and experienced people out there. I don’t have to be the one running the day-to-day business of the company.