By Sir Don Ubani; KSC, JP
Okwubunka of Asa Gburugburu and Oke Amadi Nd’Asa.
3rd March, 2022.
Governance and Leadership are inextricably intertwined. Governance can not be meaningful to the masses if those saddled with the onerous task of governance are not properly groomed in the art of leadership.
There are many intrinsic qualities that a Leader should be characterized by. Decipline, honesty, altruism, Intelligence and vision are just a few of them. In as much as five of the above are very important, vision could be said to tower above them all.
It is the vision of a Leader that drives his or her communal enterprise. A Leader imbued with vision thinks and plans ahead of his or her time and generation.
That Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State is the first Governor in the State, since its creation thirty-two years ago, to initiate a 30-year Long-term Development Plan for the State, goes a long way to show that the Governor is a visionary Leader.
When in 1752 an American Printer, Publisher, Scientist, Inventor and Diplomat, Benjamin Franlin, invented electricity, it could probably not have been certain he knew how significant his invention would be to the entire globe.
Just in the spirit of adventure, Ben, as he was popularly called by his friends and associates, could have been motivated merely to have the honour of inventing electricity. It could not have been clear that his vision revolved around an invention that would determine the level and growth of industrialization and manufacturing in a very competitive world.
Today, as the truth stands tall and incontrovertible, Electricity has become the ultimate determiner of Industrialization, Advancement in Science and Technology, Pharmacy, Medicine and Surgery, Food Preservation, Sports and even Tourism. There is hardly any sector of human development that can record any meaningful success and growth without adequate supply of Electricity. To be candid, the level of any country’s development is a pointer to the country’s advancement or stability in Electricity Generation and its Distribution chain.
Electricity was first installed in Nigeria in 1896. However, the first Electricity Utility Company was established in 1929. The Company was called Nigerian Electricity Supply Company, N.E.S.C. Since 1929, Electricity, which is in Nigeria’s Concurrent Legislative List, has witnessed a lot of changes, especially in nomenclature.
From Nigerian Electricity Supply Company, N.E.S.C of 1929, the Company had, at various times, been known as Electricity Company of Nigeria, E. C. N, Nigerian Electricity Power Authority, N.E.P.A. which many Nigerians had referred to as Never Expect Power Always and Power Holding Company of Nigeria, P.H.C.N.
Owing to the epileptic nature of the Power Sector in Nigeria, the President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s Administration decided to privatize the Power Sector in 2013. The Administration established the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, N.E.R.C, which in turn created Electricity Generating Companies, GENCOS and Electricity Distribution Companies, DISCOS.
Despite all the reforms in the Nigerian Electricity Sector, the results were not able to change the epileptic description attached to the Electricity Sector in Nigeria.
As no electricity platform provided by Government or her agencies could sustain industrial activity for two consecutive hours at any given time, Industrialists were compelled to resort to providing their own alternative source of Power. Purchase of Big Industrial-sized Generators became the norm, rather than the exception. That, unfortunately, became an avoidable source of environmental pollution, which seriously affected the health of Nigerian citizens.
It obviously became difficult, if not impossible, for Industries and Establishments that relied on Electricity to break even. The aftermath of such an untoward reality was that many Companies had to fold up while those that managed to keep afloat had to retrench up to 80% of their work-force.
The resultant effect of closure of many Industries and Factories in Nigeria was that the Country’s economy took a downward turn. Many Youths became unemployed. That development eventually gave rise to escalation of Youth Restiveness and its attendant surge in criminal activities
In Abia, with Aba in focus, a State known for her ingenuity and inventiveness, the situation was not different. Aba is both a Commercial and Industrial Hub, not just in South-East but indisputably in Nigeria. Of course, ingenuity and creativity can, at best, only be at its lowest ebb in the face of unreliable generation and distribution of electricity.
Worried by the stark poor performance of the Electricity Distribution Company that purports to distribute Electricity in Abia State, particularly in Aba but vividly determined to positively address the challenge, the Governor of the State, Okezie Victor Chibuikem Ikpeazu, has been very diligently consistent in his Administration’s resolve to work out a meaningful and sustainable solution to the problem of Power in Aba.
To this end, Governor Ikpeazu has conclusively provided an enabling environment, both pecuniary and administrative, for the Management of GEOMETRIC POWER COMPANY to distribute Power in Aba Industrial Clusters and their environs.
The Government of Abia State, under the watch of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, has successfully taken the GEOMETRIC COMPANY, under the Chairmanship of Professor Bath Nnaji, a former Minister of Power in Nigeria, to the Headquarters of African Export and Import Development Bank, AFREXIM, in Cairo, Egypt.
The Government of Abia State, apart from willingly and voluntarily playing a facilitating role that led to financial support to GEOMETRIC POWER COMPANY by AFREXIM, the State Government also provided the needed Counterpart Fund for the revolutionization of the Power Sector in Aba through GEOMETRIC POWER COMPANY. This accords a 5% Equity Share to the Abia State Government.
In accordance with the vision and expectation of the Governor, GEOMETRIC POWER COMPANY will take over the distribution of electricity in Aba and its environs in the very near future, not far from now.
Once that happens, electricity will be twenty-four hours on a daily basis in the Enyimba City of Aba. A Town that can boast of more than One Hundred Thousand Small Scale Industrialists and Artesians will definitely bounce back to productivity and creation of wealth.
By what Governor Ikpeazu has done, life will become totally meaningful to the people of Aba. This initiative is exceptionally important in view of the Governor’s earlier vision which has already led to a working understanding with the Federal Government of Nigeria, the African Development Bank and some other global stakeholders in industrial development, to establish a mighty economic hub known as Enyimba Economic City Project in the State.
With a constant supply of Electricity, the vision of Governor Ikpeazu will certainly culminate in Aba emerging as truly the Japan of Africa.
Sir Don Ubani is a former Commissioner for Information and Strategy in Abia State and writes from Asa.