By Oke Peter
An indigenous business concern, Proton Energy, has expressed determination to boost Nigeria’s power generation base with a 150MW plant located in Delta State.
Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, on Thursday, performed the groundbreaking ceremony of the $250million gas-fired power generation plant in Ogoprode-Sapele in Sapele Local Government Area of the state.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Executive Vice-President of Proton Energy Limited, Mr. Oti Ikomi, disclosed that the plant would begin operations in 2018 when most of the infrastructural, technical and electrical installations would have been completed.
Ikomi also promised that the power plant would create at least 1000 jobs for people in the locality starting from the construction stages.
He urged the relevant authorities to urgently consider a review of electricity tariff in the country as well as review the energy policies with a bias to energise the power sector in the country in the overall interest of the economy due to the invaluable role of the subsector of the nation’s economy.
In his remarks, Governor Okowa stressed the need for international oil companies (OICs to relocate the headquarters to their areas of operation in the Niger Delta, saying the onus was however on the federal government to pressurise the IOCs to comply.
Okowa noted that more megacities could evolve in the oil producing states of the Niger Delta region, which would substantially take the social and environmental burden from Lagos and Abuja if the multinational oil companies relocated to places like Warri or Yenagoa.
He commended the Proton Energy company for the Sapele power plant initiative, noting that an additional 150MW of electricity was a welcome development in Nigeria as “our generational capacity is still very low” despite visible efforts to step up generation through several IPP projects springing up across the country.
Also speaking at the ceremony, the Orodje of Okpe Kingdom, HRM Orhue I, noted that the fact that a third power plant was in the process of being established in Sapele was an eloquent testimony to the peaceful nature of Okpe as a people but urged the firms in the area to reciprocate his people gesture of love and peace by engaging qualified members of the local population.
Specifically, the Okpe monarch urged the companies to “abide by the provisions of the Local (Nigerian) Act which specifies that 100 percent of unskilled labour and 60 percent skilled labour should be from the locality where an industry or firm is located.”
He lamented that electricity supply in Sapele and other area within the Oke Kingdo continue to suffer epileptic power supply and urged the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) to improve its distribution mechanism to address the problem.
The Orodje also advised a couple of families who reportedly had legal issues over the land where the plant is situated to withdraw such cases from court and give Porto Energy uninterrupted access to the site.
The highpoint of the event was the traditional groundbreaking by Governor Okowa, which was witness by dignitaries and state government functionaries including the state Commissioner for Energy, Mr. Newworld Safugha and his information ministry counterpart, Mr. Patrick Ukah, the representative of the Economic Director of USAID (Initiator of Power Africa programme), Ms Bibi Oufore, Sapele Council chairman, Chief Ejaife Odebala and top executives of technical partners of Proton Energy responsible for the infrastructural, technical and electrical aspects of the plant.