Buhari launches investigation on fuel crisis

…Vows to sanction principal actors

… Says power generation hits 7,000MW

By Samuel Ibiyemi

President Muha               mmadu Buhari has commenced investigation of fuel crisis and promised to sanction principal actors behind shortages.

President Buhari in a new year message hinted that principal actors would be punished for  chosing the  period of Christmas and New Year to inflict severe hardship on Nigerians by creating unnecessary fuel scarcity across the country. According to him, the consequence was that not many could travel and few who did had to pay exorbitant transport fares. “ Unfortunately, I am saddened to acknowledge that for many this Christmas and New Year holidays have been anything but merry and happy.

This  is unacceptable given that Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had taken measures to ensure availability at all depots,” he said.

Buhari in a military voice likened to his regime as head of state expressed determination to get to the root of this collective blackmail of all Nigerians. He also vowed  to ensure that whichever groups are behind this manipulated hardship will be prevented from doing so again.

He added: “ Such unpatriotism will not divert the Administration from the course we have set ourselves. Our government’s watch word and policy thrust is CHANGE. We must change our way of doing things or we will stagnate and be left behind in the race to lift our people out of poverty and into prosperity”.

Buhari assured that power remains a concern to his administration because too many people still do not have regular and reliable supply.

According to him, the Payment Assurance Guarantee Scheme which started in January 2016 has enabled the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trader to raise so far N701 billion to assure Generation Companies of at least 80% payment for any power delivered to the national grid.

Consequently,  he said the generation has now reached 7,000MW.  He recalled on December 8, 2017 the country achieved 5,155MW of power delivered to consumers, the highest level ever recorded.

“Several moribund projects have been revived.  Repairs of Afam Power Station added 110MW in 2017 and another 240MW will be added this year through a private investment partnership.

“Katsina Power Project is now being tested and producing 10MW of power from wind for the first time in Nigeria.  It should be fully operational this year.”

He added: “The Zungeru 700MW Hydroelectric Power Project, stalled by court cases is due for completion in 2019.  The transmission and other requirements to operate the 30MW Gurara Phase 1 Hydroelectric Plant, the 40MW Kashimbilla Hydroelectric Plant and the 215 MW Kaduna Gas/LPG/Diesel Power Plant will also be completed this year.”$

A landmark project, Mambilla Hydroelectric Power Project is at last taking off.  This project has been on the drawing Board for 40 years, but now the engineering, procurement and construction contract for the 3,050MW project has been agreed with a Chinese joint venture Company with a financing commitment from the government of China.  Completion is targeted for 2023.

“As I mentioned earlier, the Transmission Company of Nigeria can now distribute all the 7,000MW that can be generated.  TCN and the Niger Delta Holding Company have added 1,950MVA of 330 down to 132KV transformer capacity of 10 transmission stations and 2,930MVA of 132 down to 33KV transformer capacity of 42 sub-stations including Ikot Ekpene, Aba, Alagbon, Ajah, Ejigbo, Funtua and Zaria.”

This Administration is working with the privatised distribution Companies to overcome the continuing challenges of distribution.

“These massive public works should spearhead the recovery and lead millions back to employment. You will recall that it was not until last year that we got out of the economic recession into which the country had fallen as a consequence of past unsustainable economic policies which projected short-term illusory growth”.

Also in the speech, Buhari  unveiled plans to make significant in-roads in advancing road, rail and power projects across the country.

According to him, he said  the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing is one of the drivers of this Government’s commitment to renew and increase Nigeria’s stock of infrastructure in order to achieve global economic competitiveness as targeted under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

With regards to Railways,  Buhari his administration had set  ambitious targets. According to him, already in construction stage is the Lagos-Kano Standard Gauge Railway.

The line should reach Ibadan from Lagos by the end of 2019 and will carry two million passengers per year and five million tons of cargo will be transported every year giving a substantial boost to the country’s economy,” he said.

Further, he said the Construction of the Kano – Kaduna segment is expected to commence this year and reach Kaduna by the end of 2019.  He noted that by the end of 2021, the two ends will be joined so that we will have standard gauge railway across the main North-South trading route.

“The Abuja – Kaduna route will be boosted by additional rolling stock next Thursday and will be able to handle one million commuters annually,”he said.

“At the same time I have approved and negotiations will be concluded in the first part of this year for the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri line covering Aba, Owerri, Umuahia, Enugu, Awka, Abakaliki, Makurdi, Lafia, Jos, Bauchi, Gombe, Yola and Damaturu.  The Abuja to Itakpe line will go through Baro and terminate in Warri with construction of a new seaport at Warri.”

Negotiations according to him have also reached advanced stage  for the construction of other railway lines, firstly from Kano to Maradi in Niger Republic passing through Kazaure, Daura, Katsina, Jibia to Maradi.

Secondly, Lagos to Calabar the “Coastal Rail”  through Ore, Benin, Agbor, Asaba, Onitsha, Sapele, Ughelli, Warri, Yenagoa, Otuoke, Port Harcourt, Aba, Uyo and Calabar.  In the next few years, all these Nigerian cities will be linked by functional modern rail systems, giving enormous boost to the social and economic life of our people.

With respect to the Abuja Capital Light Rail, progress has reached 98% completion, as at 64% completion when we assumed office.  Only test runs remain before start of operations.

Speaking on the benefits, Buhari said this train service will stimulate economic activities in the Federal Capital and provide residents with an efficient and safe transportation system.  “Twelve railway sub-stations around the capital over a 45.2 kilometre route will serve as a catalyst and a pull factor to the economy of the area.  The Light Rail System will reduce traffic congestion and carbon emission in line with the Administration’s policy on climate change, he assured.

Still on transport sector, Buhari  said that Management of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) has been reconstituted and has been charged with a 12 week rapid intervention in road repairs to cover all the geo-political zones. H noted that the government  is undertaking repairs and maintenance of 44 roads within the six geo-political zones.

“Twenty five major highways will be funded under the N100b SUKUK facility. Each geo-political zone will benefit by an equal amount of N16.67b.”He said the following major highways are to receive special attention:

This includes Oyo – Ogbomosho, Ofusu – Ore – Ajebandele – Shagamu,

Yenagoa Road Junction – Kolo Otuoke – Bayelsa Palm,

Enugu – Port Harcourt Dual Carriage Way,

Onitsha – Enugu Expressway,

Kaduna Eastern Bypass.

Others are  Dualization of Kano – Maiduguri Road,

Dualization of Abuja – Lokoja – Benin Road,

Dualization of Suleja – Minna Road.

In addition, h said his administration  has approved work to start on the re-construction of Abuja – Kaduna – Zaria – Kano road which is in a state of disrepair. Work will soon start and is expected to be completed in 2019.

More Nigerians across the country are experiencing improved power supply to their homes and businesses.

The government is slowly stabilizing the economy.

It was in order to change the steady and steep decline that we adopted the more sustainable policies and programmes captured in the Economic Recovery Plan. Diversification efforts have resulted in improved output particularly in agriculture and solid minerals sectors. The relative exchange rate stability has improved manufacturing sector performance.

We have got to get used to discipline and direction in economic management. The days of business as usual are numbered.

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