BUHARI PRE­SIDES OVER FEC, OS­IN­BAJO TAKES CHARGE OF ASUU NE­GO­TI­A­TIONS

THISDAY - - PAGE EIGHT -

He re­turned to Nige­ria on Au­gust 19, but can­celled last week’s FEC meet­ing.

As the pres­i­dent en­tered into the coun­cil cham­ber, min­is­ters rose and clapped with ex­cite­ment after set­ting their eyes on the pres­i­dent whom some of them had not seen since he re­turned to the coun­try.

Brief­ing State House cor­re­spon­dents after the meet­ing, the Min­is­ter of Labour and Pro­duc­tiv­ity, Dr. Chris Ngige, said the gov­ern­ment was com­mit­ted to end­ing the strike em­barked upon by the Aca­demic Staff Union of Uni­ver­si­ties (ASUU).

Against this back­ground, he said the cab­i­net had as­signed Vice-Pres­i­dent Yemi Os­in­bajo to take charge of some as­pects of the ne­go­ti­a­tions with the univer­sity lec­tur­ers, dis­clos­ing that rel­e­vant gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials were slated to meet in the vice-pres­i­dent’s of­fice later yes­ter­day, after which gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion would be com­mu­ni­cated to the lec­tur­ers.

Ngige also said the con­sti­tu­tion of the Na­tional Min­i­mum Wage Com­mit­tee ap­proved by FEC in April had not been made pub­lic be­cause some of the groups ex­pected to nom­i­nate mem­bers into the com­mit­tee were yet to sub­mit the names of their nom­i­nees.

Ngige added that FEC ap­proved a memo, in ac­cor­dance with the ex­tant laws, that would aid the mon­i­tor­ing and in­stal­la­tion of in­dus­trial ma­chines by man­u­fac­tur­ers, with a view to en­sur­ing that such in­stal­la­tions com­ply with the laws and con­se­quently avert the loss of lives dur­ing op­er­a­tions.

Also brief­ing cor­re­spon­dents, the Min­is­ter of Power Works and Hous­ing, Mr. Ba­batunde Fashola said FEC ap­proved $5.792 bil­lion for the con­struc­tion of the Mam­billa hy­dro power plant at the Mam­billa plateau in Taraba State.

The project, which was con­ceived in 1972, ac­cord­ing to Fashola, would gen­er­ate 3,050 megawatts (MW) of elec­tric­ity.

Fashola, who de­scribed the project as a joint ven­ture be­tween the fed­eral gov­ern­ment and Chi­nese Civil En­gi­neer­ing Com­pany (CCEC), put the du­ra­tion for the ex­e­cu­tion of the project at six years.

Ac­cord­ing to him, the project would com­prise four dams, with 700 kilo­me­tres of trans­mis­sion lines, which he said would un­leash Nige­ria’s po­ten­tial in tourism, en­ergy and agri­cul­ture.

The dams, ac­cord­ing to the min­is­ter, had been grouped into four cat­e­gories with var­i­ous heights of 150 me­tres high, two in­ter­me­di­ate dams of 70 me­tres high each, and the small­est at 50 me­tres high.

He also said the project would en­able Nige­ria to ful­fil its own part of the Paris agree­ment on re­new­able en­ergy at a com­pet­i­tive cost.

“The mem­o­ran­dum from the Min­istry of Power, Works and Hous­ing is for the Mam­billa hy­dro elec­tric power plant. I be­lieve many of you have heard about this project. Nige­ria started talk­ing about it since 1972, which is about 45 years ago.

“Sev­eral ef­forts have been made to bring it to re­al­ity but I am happy to an­nounce to you that this gov­ern­ment ap­proved the award of the con­tract to­day (yes­ter­day) as a joint ven­ture with Chi­nese Civil En­gi­neer­ing Com­pany (CCEC), in­clud­ing civil and elec­tro-me­chan­i­cal works for $5.792 bil­lion.

“The con­struc­tion should take about 72 months, which is roughly about six years. The scope of works is very ex­ten­sive. It re­quires the con­struc­tion of four dams.

“One of them is 150 me­tres in height, the in­ter­me­di­ate two are 70 me­tres in height, and the small­est of them is 50 me­tres in height. Just for con­cept and scope, that of 150 me­tres is es­sen­tially the about the height of a 50-storey build­ing be­cause you have ap­prox­i­mately three me­tres per floor. The in­ter­me­di­ate one is roughly a 20-some­thing storey build­ing.

“It also in­cludes 700 kilo­me­tres of trans­mis­sion lines. It will be in Taraba State in the area called Gengu. It will in­volve a lot of prepara­tory works and re­set­tle­ment.

“It will re­ally un­leash the po­ten­tials that have been re­ported about Mam­billa – agri­cul­ture, tourism and also for en­ergy.

“It will also help Nige­ria to strike a very big blow on the cli­mate change is­sue and ful­fil its com­mit­ment un­der the Paris agree­ment be­cause this is go­ing to be re­new­able en­ergy, com­ing also at a rel­a­tively com­pet­i­tive cost. This was ap­proved by the coun­cil to­day,” Fashola said.

Fashola also ex­plained why the 11 elec­tric­ity dis­tri­bu­tion com­pa­nies (Dis­cos) re­port­edly re­jected over 9,000MW of elec­tric­ity within eight days re­cently, say­ing whereas power gen­er­a­tion had risen from 2,690MW in 2015 to 6,800MW this month, there was a prob­lem with dis­tri­bu­tion, which blamed on the in­abil­ity of the Dis­cos to up­grade their equip­ment in lock­step with the elec­tric­ity be­ing wheeled out from the grid.

The min­is­ter, who said he was aware that an es­ti­mated 4,000MW of elec­tric­ity is re­jected by the Dis­cos reg­u­larly, blamed the trend on the weak ca­pac­ity of the equip­ment used by the Dis­cos.

Ac­cord­ing to him, some of the equip­ment ac­quired by the Dis­cos, upon pri­vati­sa­tion, had be­come an­ti­quated and ob­so­lete, and hence, re­quire up­grades to en­able them to ab­sorb and dis­trib­ute elec­tric­ity to con­sumers.

How­ever, he said the gov­ern­ment was com­mit­ted to guar­an­tee­ing sta­ble power sup­ply, point­ing out that the power sec­tor re­form of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment would ad­dress the prob­lem.

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