The Interim Administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Mr. Efiong Akwa, says that the 132/33kv sub-station being constructed by the Commission in Okitipupa will provide electricity for over 2,000 communities spread across five local government areas of Ondo State.
Akwa spoke during an inspection of the project in the company of the Governor of Ondo State, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, and the Minister of State in the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Omotayo Alasoadura, as well as the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on NDDC, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo.
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer said he was excited that the Commission was constructing a huge power station in the oil-producing area of Ondo State, noting that both President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio were interested in seeing to the completion of the project.
Akwa thanked the Ondo State Governor for suspending everything in his schedule to be part of the inspection visit, noting that it showed his interest in seeing to the completion of the project.
He said: “What I have seen here is massive. I didn’t want to stay in the office and send directors to inspect the project. When the contractor presented an update on the project to us, I insisted on coming to see things for myself. From what is on ground here, this is a massive electricity project and a lot of money have been sunk in here.
“We have gotten to a point of no return. For this project, I can tell you that there is no retreat, no surrender. We have to complete this project and put it to use as soon as possible. As it is now, we have done about 85 per cent of the job.”
Akwa promised that the NDDC will assist the contractor to tackle the challenges of sourcing foreign exchange for the procurement of some of the equipment that needed to be imported, stating: “We will be a bit practical to address the issue of getting foreign exchange for the importation of some of the equipment. We will authorize the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to debit our dollar account, so that we don’t have issue of foreign exchange short falls.
“This project is very important because it will serve five local government areas in the oil production belt of Ondo state. When you provide light to a people, you have provided life. So we are committed to providing life to the people.
In his remarks, Governor Akeredolu praised the NDDC and the Interim Administrator for making efforts to release the necessary funds that would facilitate the completion of the project.
He said: “I appreciate the NDDC under the watch of Efiong Akwa. This is a new era in the Commission and our people in the five local government areas in the southern part of the state will forever be grateful to the NDDC for making efforts to give us light.
“He has even gone the extra mile of assuring that money will also be released from the Commission’s foreign account to take care of the importation of some of the equipment. I will not forget this visit and I am sure that the people in this area will be very happy with what the NDDC has done for them.”
The governor said that numerous oil-producing communities spread across five local government areas of Ilaje, Ese-Odo, Okitipupa, Odigbo and Irele, all in Ondo South Senatorial District, would benefit from the sub-station.
Akeredolu stated that the project was very dear to the people and urged the NDDC not to relent in the efforts until the project was completed.
According to Akeredolu, the southern senatorial district of Ondo State represents the core economic base of the state, as it was the oil-producing area. He observed that the absence of public power supply in the area had affected the state economy.
Giving details of the electricity project, Engr. Benson Obayelu, the contractor handling the project, said the scope of the contract included the evacuation of light from Omotosho with a step-down at Ireje through a 132KV double circuit line with two 30/40MVA transformers at Okitipupa.
According to him, the transmission lines run through Ireje with 145 electricity towers that are standing on concrete foundations. Obayelu said that almost all materials needed for the project were already on-site at Okitipupa.
He stated: “The project is almost completed. We need to add only two components to sign off. The remaining items are the installation of the conductors and mounting of electrical panels in the control room. What is delaying these installations is funding.
“If we get funds, we can deliver this project in the next four months. We have six feeders going out of the sub-station and this will take care of the five local government areas currently without light for over 12 years.
NDDC Interim Administrator, Mr. Efiong Akwa, (2nd right); Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (right); Minister of State, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Omotayo Alasoadura and Ondo State Deputy Governor, Mr. Lucky Ayedatiwa, during the inspection of the 132/33kv sub-station in Okitipupa, Ondo State…on Friday.