Tariff hike: Govt seeks support of traditional rulers

*Says coal exploration for power underway

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

21 May 2012, Sweetcrude, ABUJA - The Federal Government has enjoined traditional rulers and Leaders of thoughts to be veritable partners in government’s drive to reform the power sector.

Minister of State for Power, Arc. Darius Ishaku made this plea when he paid a courtesy visit on the Emir of Borgu, Dr. Haliru Dantoro in New Bussa, Niger State.

He said, “You are closer to the people and therefore must engage your subjects against being used by those who benefit from Nigeria being kept in darkness.”

Ishaku said government is determined to raise the economy of the Nation with adequate and regular power supply through the participation of investors in the power sector.

The Minister said appropriate tariff adjustment was designed to encourage Nigerians and foreign investors deploy resources to the highly capital intensive sector and there are too many important programmes and national needs competing for the limited national resources at the disposal of the government.

“We are shielding the citizens from estimated billing which forces them to pay for what they do not consume. As the new tariff regime comes into effect, Government is not only ensuring metering services but has also set up the process to distribute energy saving bulbs,” the Minister said.

He added that with energy saving bulbs in Nigeria, “we will be conserving the little energy and releasing what would have been in waste back to the national grid for distribution to other areas of the economy.”

The Minister told the traditional ruler that series of new power stations would be commissioned this year and emphasized that his visit to Kainji was to commission a huge project of the Power Institute meant to instill needed capacity to our citizens to man the new power stations.

In his response, the Emir commended the resilience of those in charge of the power sector to improve and sustain the industry and promised to address his subject on the need to cooperate with government as the new tariff regime takes effect.

Dr. Haliru expressed satisfaction that the new regime would shield the rural dwellers and urban poor from paying higher and thanked the government for protecting the interest of the most vulnerable in the economy.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Mohammed Musa Sada, has reiterated government’s determination to use the Coal resource across the country in its power mix to generate 30% of electricity by year 2015. Coal briquettes could be developed for domestic use instead of fire wood.

Sada who made the disclosure in Lokoja, Kogi State during a courtesy visit on the Executive Governor of the State, Capt. Idris Ichalla Wada said that that was the Presidential directive given to the sector in line with the transformation agenda of the present administration.

He added that everything was being done in the sector to achieve that dream through collaboration and partnership with investors and all stakeholders.

Arc. Sada was on a working visit to the Coal Mine of Eta-Zuma Group West Africa Limited at Okobo in Anpka Local Government Area of Kogi State.

The Minister noted that the investor, Eta- Zuma Group West Africa Limited was doing very well and the Federal Government was doing everything to encourage them.

Arc. Sada disclosed that Kogi State is endowed with a lot of solid mineral resources, adding that the Federal Government was ready to partner with the state government and investors to develop the resources for the mutual benefits of all stakeholders. Consequently, he sought for the Kogi State Government’s support and cooperation in that regard.

He noted that, “Exploring and exploiting solid mineral resources for the benefit of Nigerians and investors is the ministry’s core mandate. We are ready to partner with anybody who has the wherewithal towards the actualisation of that mandate. We can talk to such persons and they can talk to us. “