Understanding Governor Ayade’s Electricity Dreams BY AGBA JALINGO

In Breaking News, Opinion

The glow of satisfaction and achievement that adorned Governor Ayade’s face, as he appraised himself after the test run of power evacuation from the 23 megawatts Low Pour Fuel Oil (LPFO), power plant he has constructed in Calabar, was very memorable.

He doubled the excitement by renaming the project after himself “Ayade Power Plant” according to his media aides and they have since been celebrating and asking Cross Riverians to look forward to 24hours electricity supply.

I join them in celebrating this “achievement” but I remain doubtful about the future and sustainability for varied reasons. Before expressing my doubts, let us retrace the various efforts and promises Governor Ayade has given Cross Riverians about power supply.

On the 5th of April, 2017, while receiving some investment partners, from Industrial Project Services (IPS) from South Africa, who paid him a courtesy visit in Calabar, Governor Ben Ayade disclosed plans to build two megawatts of electricity in each of the 18 Local Government Areas of the State.

He said that the project would be completed before 2019 through Public-Private Partnership (PPP), and will boost electricity supply in all the Councils. The Governor said that the State was also considering the option of using solar for the day and gas for the night throughout the State.

“The radiation we see from literature studies shows clearly that we have high level of radiation which therefore, makes the applicability of solar, an energy source in the northern and central parts of the State, viable. This will be the first solar power project to be undertaken in the South-South of Nigeria on commercial scale.” He said.

Later on that year, precisely June 26, 2017, the Governor announced again that Cross River will build a 26MW power plant in Tinapa. The Governor disclosed that the power project was funded by the Export-Import Bank of India and the Cross River State Government, and was meant to be completed in 24 months.

The World President, Skipper Seil Group, Mr. Jitender Sacheva, also presented the final execution plan for the proposed power generation project to Governor Ben Ayade in Calabar on that day.

“This project is long overdue and I’m excited that today it has been actualized because of your effort.” Sacheva said, adding that the project had been approved by the Indian Government, only waiting to be executed in the State.

He told the Governor that, “We are here basically to ask you to hand over to us physically the land designated for the project so as to enable us to commence construction work immediately. We are setting two-year timeline but I assure you that the power plant will be inaugurated before May 2019 when you are expected to begin your second tenure in office.”

Then again, on October 11 2017, Governor Ayade announced the signing of another Memorandum of Understanding with a consortium of energy firms led by Siemens to deliver a 750-megawatts power plant in the State.

He said the project would be deployed through ship-mounted turbines, with an 18-month timeline adding that 40 megawatts of electricity would be delivered within the next three months through a truck-mounted turbine as an emergency measure.

And in the same manner Governor Ayade spoke about the 23 megawatts plant test run yesterday, he also described the Siemens partnership as a project that will end darkness in the State, “I am happy that this project does not come at any cost to us. I’m happy that one of the key emphasis is to provide uninterrupted power supply, and Cross River will soon be listed as the first State with 24/7 power supply in the country.” he said.

All these agreements, partnerships and MoUs that never came to be or are still in the pipeline, were thought to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly methods of generating power than using diesel powered generators to light up a small city and the attendant environmental impact.

The Governor himself has repeatedly expressed concerns about the sustainability of powering his plant with diesel generators and had earlier announced a partnership with the Nigerian Gas Marketing Company to convert the combustion compartment of the 23 megawatts power plant to be gas fired instead of LPFO or diesel, as is the case presently.

While hosting a delegation from the Nigeria Gas Marketing Company (NGMC) led by Engineer Michael Akinsanya, the Executive Director, Asset Management and Technical Services, in October 2017 in Calabar, the Governor said the State will partner with the Gas Marketing Company, a subsidiary of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, in its gas to energy program that may see an uptake of up to 100mmscf of gas and also convert the combustion compartment of the 23 megawatts power plant to gas fired.

But curiously, nothing is still been said about all the previous agreements and MoUs to give the State uninterrupted power as was planned before 2019, and now, the celebrated 23 megawatts power plant is diesel powered after failing to go through with effort to convert it to gas fired.

My reservations about this project is the major environmental impact of diesel generators which is constant CO2 emissions during service life.

A small diesel generator used to power a BTS consumes about 18,000 litres of fuel per year. CO2 emission from one litre of diesel fuel is 2.68kg. Meaning one generator emits 46.5 metric tons of CO2 annually. With those large LPFO powered generators, it is a massive environmental risk that should have been put into consideration by a Governor who is an environmentalist.

What if there is fuel scarcity tomorrow and diesel is not available to power those generators?

Those generators are also allegedly old and not new. What is the guarantee of their life span?

The diesel powered generator project in Obudu which the Governor did, failed and should have been a lesson. All the talk about lighting up Obudu in recent days is a hoax. The generator was brought back to life to power street lights for four hours daily only in preparation to host visitors who came to Obudu for the Governor’s niece wedding. After the wedding, the bulbs have gone off. After the wedding, there was light in Obudu town only on Saturday afternoon for about 2hours.

All the other efforts that Governor Ayade made with other companies to generate power for the State, what happened them?

Or don’t Cross Riverians deserve to know?

Or is our Governor just going to go on making bogus promises and giving timelines and not meeting them and continue to feel that Cross Riverians are not taking notes?

While we all celebrate the little that has been achieved, there is still a lot more that can be done to provide clean energy for Cross Riverians.

The Governor should push harder to see how other partnerships that did not involve fossil fuels can be pulled through within the remaining 1375 days or at least explain to Cross Riverians why those other MoUs were abandoned or are still kept in view.

Yours Sincerely,
Citizen Agba Jalingo.


Citizen Agba Jalingo is the Cross River State Chairman of AAC and writes from Calabar, the Cross River State capital.

NOTE: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Agba Jalingo, and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.

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