If There Is Light… BY AGBA JALINGO


The Economist Magazine estimates that, as at 2019, there were over 100,000 registered tailors in Nigeria. That figure is quite conservative to say the least. There is not much reliable data on the precise number of artisans countrywide. But millions of them, including, barbers, hair dressers, tailors, business center operators, welders, frozen food sellers, carpenters and wood workers, bars and pubs owners, etc, are out of work and finding it extremely difficult to cater for themselves and their families. And the only reason they are out of work is the shameful epileptic supply of electricity in Nigeria.

Yet, instead of working to improve power supply, in the 2023 national budget, N81.7 billion was allocated to the purchase of solar street lights, surpassing schools and primary health centers, which were allocated N77.9 billion and health centers, which got N3.1 billion. Yet these lights die off after a few months. They can’t power anything. Not even a blender or a clipper to cut your hair or a dryer to dry your hair. I do not know how much of that budget came to my senatorial district but I think we can separate ourselves from the pack.

What do I think we can do other than the street lights? I do not have any perfect idea. I am sure that elected leaders were trusted by the voters and do have their own solutions, but there are some thoughts racing through my mind which I will share with you. I am deliberately restricting my suggestions in this article to the five LGAs in Cross River North, where I come from. My only desire and goal here is to see how my suggestions may help to revamp the informal sector, check urban migration and drive investment to our place.

In March 2023, President Buhari signed into law, the constitutional amendment allowing states in the country to licence, generate, transmit, and distribute electricity. Under the Act, states can issue licenses to private investors who can operate mini-grids and power plants within the State. This de-monopolization of Nigeria’s electricity generation, transmission, and distribution empowered states, companies, and individuals to generate, transmit and distribute electricity.

The best bet for us from Cross River North is to explore the Obudu Dam Resort. The Federal Government on Wednesday 14th August 2012, at a meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan, approved the contract sum of N1.165 billion, awarded to Consolidated Construction Limited, CCL, for the rehabilitation of the dam, which has a storage capacity of 1.25 million cubic meters and was meant to serve the entire northern Cross River, up to Ikom LGA. But the former Minister of Water Resources, Mrs. Stella Ochekpe, was accused of misappropriating the money and she is serving a jail term in Jos.

Our National Assembly Members from the North need to constitute and support a lean technical committee to immediately determine the encumbrances surrounding the project and the possibility and plausibility of intervening to even make the place work partially.

Where that is not possible immediately; the technical team can work with experts to identify an artesian well within the proximity of the dam where groundwater can be harnessed for power generation. In the 2025 budget year, our three NASS Members can then deliberately accommodate into their joint constituency project, the development of a small dam and mini grid that can generate between 2-5 megawatt of electricity from that artesian well. Five megawatt can power Cross River North and energize a designated industrial zone within any of the LGAs in the Senatorial district. Experts say, without corruption and padding, N500 million can achieve that.

The project can be funded from NASS constituency intervention, PPP where citizens will be encouraged to own equity, and private capital. But I do not think that N500million is too much money to raise for such a vital project by our legislators. The generated energy can then be isolated from the national grid and be promptly evacuated to a designated technology hub or economic zone, that will be specially designed and allocated for all those artisans listed in my first paragraph that are currently out of jobs and other private investors who would want to come and utilize the regular power supply for small scale processing of our wasting agricultural produce and other electricity dependent business endeavours.

Yours sincerely,
Citizen Agba Jalingo.


Development Consultant, Writer, Editor-In-Chief/Publisher @theluminenews.com, Public/ Motivational Speaker, Public Affairs Analyst/Commentator, Social Mobilizer of high repute.

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