Niger State Governor, Dr. Mu'azu Babangida Aliyu, has assured President Goodluck Jonathan that contrary to speculations that he is against his administration, he has never been at loggerheads with it.
Aliyu stated yesterday when Jonathan laid the foundation for the construction of the N162.9 billion, 700 megawatts (MW) capacity Zungeru hydro power plant, located in Niger State, that his criticism of the president was in good faith because it had become necessary to attract his attention for good governance.
The governor's statement was made just as Jonathan said he was determined to initiate a revolution in the power sector that would ensure that future generations would no longer depend on generating sets for power supply.
The governor, who is widely regarded as anti-Jonathan because of his critical comments on the state of the nation, including the president’s rumoured second term bid, lauded the president for the achievements of his administration.
He said: “We are aware of your love and concern for Nigerlites as a result of which you were nicknamed Jamilu Mainassara during the campaigns. Mr. President, you are the only Nigerian with the good luck and experience of being a deputy governor, governor, vice-president and a president with a Ph.D, so if you hear criticism, it is not because we don't love you, it is only because we want more.
“We have to talk and shout so that we can be heard; if we don't talk we won't be heard and for those who are hoping there was a wedge between us will now have to swallow their pills.”
While commending the gesture of the federal government on the project and settlement of local issues, Aliyu also asked for the speedy promulgation of the amended Act establishing the Hydro Electric Power Producing Areas Development Commission (HYPPADEC), to which Jonathan promised immediate attention.
In his speech, Jonathan explained that he has pursued and surpassed his short-term and medium-term plans for the power sector, which he said included recovery of the nation’s stranded power generation capacity.
He added that part of his long-term plan for the sector includes the construction of high profile hydro power dams, starting with the Zungeru plant and then to the Mambilla power plant, whose construction would start soon.
He said: “Government is committed to start a revolution in the power sector; the sort that will ensure that future generations of Nigeria, our children, will not have to resort to private power generating sets.
“Let me tell you that we have the will to do this as we have initiated and surpassed our short-term and medium-term plans for the sector. We shall now in our long-term plan for the sector begin to develop large hydro power plants across the country starting with Zungeru.”
He also requested for support in terms of security for workers at the project, adding that the project was for the benefit of Nigerians considering its expected contribution to the country's power and agriculture sectors respectively.
“I know that this is a peaceful state, we have had no issues of security threats from the state except for the few times that some miscreants who were imported into the state, because they are not from here, tried to make trouble.
“But I call on the people and traditional rulers to protect these assets which are our own,” he added.
Speaking earlier, Minister of Power, Professor Chinedu Nebo, said the nation had experienced growth in the generation of power in the country, adding that as at December 2012, the power sector was generating 4,500MW of electricity in contrast to 2,000MW in 2010.
He said the construction of Zungeru Hydro Electric Power dam would take four years to be completed and N162.9 billion would be expended on the project.