Power epilepsy: Delta Governor hints on possible acquisition of BEDC by Delta, three other states

The Governor of Delta State, Sheriff Oborevwori  has hinted on a possible acquisition of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) by Delta, Edo, Ekiti, and Ondo States’ governments.

The Governor made this known while addressing stakeholders at the 37th Annual General Meeting of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, Edo/Delta branch, in Asaba.

According to him, the States are tinkering with a possible takeover of the distribution company.

He explained that the four states plan to reorganise and fund the BEDC to fulfill the Federal Government’s initial objectives of farming out electricity distribution to third party operators.

Represented by his Senior Policy Adviser, Rt. Hon. Funkekeme Solomon, the governor said that with its abundant gas deposit, Delta intends to collaborate with the private sector to generate its own power.

“One of the options under serious evaluation by the four states – Delta, Edo, Ekiti, and Ondo – under the control of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC), is to take over the distribution company. Reorganise and fund it to enable it to fulfill the initial objectives of farming out electricity distribution to third party operators by the Federal Government.

“We are also looking to set up mini-grids across the state. Before they removed power generation and distribution from the Exclusive List, the previous administration of Sen. Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa had sought to wean government offices and facilities from the erratic national grid.

“Due to the then limit of 10 megawatts that can be generated in a mini grid, a private company, Bastanchury Power Solutions, invested to build, operate, generate and distribute electricity for supply to only government offices.

“This became a successful venture with tremendous savings for the government from fueling and maintaining the generators and of course paying outrageous bills to BEDC for unreliable electricity supply.

“Today, the Government House and the three arms of the State Secretariat enjoy 24-hour power supply. We hope to replicate this option by creating additional mini-grids in the state.

“Access to reliable public power supply or lack of it is the main driver of industrial development. Unfortunately, while Nigeria regaled in wholesale importation of finished and exotic goods, the indigenous manufacturing community contended with serious obstacles, chief of which is the obscene cost of generating their own electricity to power their machines.

“I am sure that your Association must have heaved a collective sigh of relief when the electricity sector was transferred to the Concurrent List.

“Shortly before leaving office, former President Muhammadu Buhari signed a series of constitutional amendments into law. One of the highlights of the amendment was the Fifth Alteration Bill No. 33, Devolution of Powers (National Grid System). This effectively removed the electricity sector from the Exclusive List, enabling states and private organizations to venture into power generation and distribution.

“Under the M.O.R.E. Agenda of my Administration, we are leveraging on this new frontier to explore the options on the road map to generating and providing regular and reliable power supply in Delta State.

“With abundant gas deposits in our state and the entire Niger Delta where gas flaring has become permanent features in our landscape, we intend to tap into this resource and partner with the private sector to generate our own electricity for stable power supply in Delta state.

“When we achieve the provision of reliable power supply, it will be easier to execute our developmental agenda as we believe that unreliable supply of electricity from the public grid has been the major impediment to realizing previous development agenda.

“Our projection is that in the next couple of years, the status of power access in Delta State will be such that manufacturers will find that critical input in production irresistible and move to our state,” the Governor explained.

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