….Laments over 7-year Blackout as it paralysed economic activities
The Ijebu Waterside Club (IWC) has called on the federal government to heed the Save Our Soul (SOS) call of residents of Ogun Waterside Local Government Area (OWLG) over the total collapse of electricity supply that has grounded socio-economic activities in the last seven years.
In a statement released to journalist, the IWC made the call at a meeting with Senator Gbenga Daniel on Monday.
Alhaji Ahmed Tijani, who is the President of IWC, a 41-year group of accomplished businessmen and professionals of Ogun Waterside extraction, intimated Daniel, who represents the Ogun East Senatorial District that includes OWLG, that the electricity crisis had impeded socio-economic development of the critical agro-industrial hub in Ogun State.
Tijani, who noted that the people of OWLG continued to suffer neglect, highlighted several abandoned government projects that include the OK LNG; the Deep Sea Port; Laogo Resort; Gateway Industrial and Petro-Gas Institute (GIPI) in Oni, the only tertiary educational in the area; Iwopin Paper Mill, and a road contract linking Efire and Ayede-Ayila to Ondo State estimated at over N14 billion that was awarded when Mrs Kemi Adeosun was Finance Minister.
Others include oil & gas related projects that if implemented, would promote job creation, boost government’s revenue earnings and foster overall economic growth across Ogun Waterside, Ogun State and Nigeria.
According to IWC, the Nigeria Electricity and Gas Improvement Project (NIGEP), a World Bank-backed project in partnership with the federal government of Nigeria, that was planned to bring succour to the people had also been abandoned, “a development that further worsened the crisis in OWLG.”
“In 2010, the NIGEP offered a big ray of hope when the Federal Government completed works on the Omotosho 2x150MVA, 330kv power plant, and a proposal was made to construct a 2x150MVA, 330/132kv substation at the power plant and utilise the outgoing 132kv lines to feed neighbouring areas of the power plant.
“The Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and the World Bank, subsequently decided that the proposed Omotosho-Agodo substation, a 45 kilometre 132kv double-circuit line project, would be executed to serve the people of OWLG.”
The IWC President said the World Bank-backed electricity project remained abandoned as funds were not made available to pay compensation to affected stakeholders.
“I also want to thank you for giving us this unique opportunity to meet with you at a very short notice. IWC cherish your simplicity, humility, tenacity and open door policies, a complete Omoluabi virtue,” Tijani told Daniel.
“Over the last 41 years of the existence of IWC”, the Club’s president told Daniel, “we have met and interacted with all past Governors of Ogun State right from the time of late Lt. Col. Oladipo Diya (General Diya), except your successor who failed to meet with us throughout his eight years, and of course all our efforts to also meet with the incumbent in the last four years have also not yielded any result.”
While speaking on the neglected GIPI in Oni, he told the Senator that, “we had always advocated for the establishment of a higher institution in our local government.
“We were therefore happy when you established during your tenure as our governor the Gateway Industrial and Petro-Gas Institute (GIPI) to produce middle level manpower for anticipated projects in the OK FTZ and other Free Trade Zones in Ogun State. But today, the Institute needs help. It is your baby and we trust you will not allow it to die.”
The Iwopin Paper Mill, Alhaji Tijani further stated, “was a federal government project established in our local government some 43 years ago that suffered major operational failure like many projects during the military era.
“The subsequent administrations that ruled this country after, also failed to complete the project. Consequently, the federal government sold the Mill at a ridiculously low amount to the late Dr. Tunji Braithwaite, Chairman of BETCO, who promised to get investors to join him and get the project back on track.
“BETCO, instead of bringing the company back on track, went ahead to scrap it. All the machinery including the buildings were sold as scraps. Today, Iwopin Paper Mill is totally empty and overgrown with weeds.”
While responding to the IWC delegation, Daniel, a former Governor of Ogun State, expressed empathy for the people, noting that the electricity crisis of over seven years was unfortunate.
According to him, “don’t get tired or frustrated because all you are doing, and what all of us are doing, are for the benefit of our children.”