Engr. Razaq Obe, the Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources for Ondo State, has announced the Ondo State government’s plans to utilize the state’s natural gas reserves by converting petrol vehicles to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), promoting the switch from firewood to cooking gas, and partnering with the private sector to drive a sub national electricity market, in order to protect the citizens of Ondo from fluctuations in petrol pump price increase.
Engr. Obe, made this known in a special discussion with EnergyDay on the sideline of the Ondo Invest 2.0, tagged : Developing Ondo State” and held in Akure, Ondo State capital between July 24 and July 26, 2023, which he described as a road map to unlocking prosperity of the state.
Speaking on the general objective of the summit, the Energy Commissioner who doubles as the Chairman, Develop Ondo 2:0, Local Organising Committee, said that one of the key areas that the Akeredolu’s administration is focused on is ensuring energy solutions in all its dimension for the benefit of all the citizens of the Ondo State.
Engr. Obe, expressed that Governor Akeredolu has implemented sustainability plans to ensure the long-term success of all projects initiated by his administration, with a focus on private sector involvement. This, according to him, is aimed at driving development and growth in the energy and mineral resources sectors, emphasising the importance of collaboration between the government and the people to address energy challenges.
He said, “Energy access passes through a spectrum of phases which includes electricity and means of fuel, especially in the transition from use of charcoal and firewood to LPG as cooking. We talk about the PMS and how you power all the electronics in your homes, industry and the like.
Engr. Obe stated that prior to Governor Akeredolu’s administration, there was no Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, which resulted in a lack of an administrative framework to address challenges in the energy sector. He added that a gas-centric Ministry was created with the right level of people to manage it.
According to him, there was a transmission substation in Akure that had been stranded for years due to the bureaucracy involved in clearing the Right of Way (RoW) for transmission lines.
However, the Ministry addressed the RoW issues from Osogbo to Akure, and the substation is now 90% completed. This will provide greater access to electricity for residents of Akure all the way to Owo. The Ministry also completed the leg work required to get the Erinje substation into completion, which has been 100% completed by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
“When the two substations come on stream, there will be a dramatic change in power supply in the state. The 330kVa line connecting the state will improve electricity supply from about 55 MW to more than 100%, transmitted and deployed to Akure and Ondo and shared between Ondo and Ekiti States.
“This means that citizens will not be forced to shed electricity in Ijoka for Ijagbo, as there will be enough power to be distributed.
“The over 15 years electricity crisis in Ondo South is expected to end soon, as over 140 kilometres of transmission towers have been installed and connected from Omotosho power station to Erinje, solving about 99% of the problems involved.
According to Engr Obe, the Governor Akeredolu has allocated a significant increase in budgetary provision to address the energy sector in the state.
Obe stated that after the inauguration of the Erinje power project, the next step would be to allocate more funds towards the procurement and supply of over 100 distribution transformers.
He said, “Additionally, there are plans to overhaul all the substations and injection stations in areas such as Ese Odo, Ilaje, Okitipupo, Erele, and other parts of the state. Once these projects are completed and energized, it will effectively address the power issues in that corridor.”
Engr Obe, the Commissioner, stated that Ondo State is an excellent location for solar mini grid intervention, especially when combined with other energy sources
He mentioned that solar power projects have already been installed and energized in several areas of the state, including Ilaje, Idanre, Ondo local government areas, and other parts of Akure.
He said, “There are over 20 solar mini-grid plant sites presently operational in Ondo state. It means that our students in some of these areas have sufficient electricity to study at night, and fishermen in the Ilaje area have the power to refrigerate and preserve their fishes for as long as they wish.
“This was achieved through our discussions with the investors, and we are very much committed to such deals. We are talking with the investors and have also removed the bureaucracies’ setbacks usually responsible for the delay in the implementation and take off of projects such as this in the state.
“For every investor interested in building any solar plant in the state, we are committed to providing the memo that enables funding partners to release capital to such investors. A sub-scenario is the Initial Stake Pool Offering (ISPO) offered to a company to install the Alagbaka Power, a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the Ondo State Government.
“The 4.5 megawatts IPP that will supply electricity to the state secretariat and other offices in Alagbaka under a design, build, own and operate, public-private-partnership is almost completed.
“Once that is done, all government assets, including the dome event centre, will be powered by the plant and we will determine how that is going to be operated without much aisle or concern over unstable electricity in all our facilities and secretariats. We will disconnect all these government facilities from the national grid.
“The Alagbaka independent power project is the first IPP that is targeted at a specific location. After the success of this pilot scheme, we will extend this feat to other urban centres in Ondo, Owo and Okitipupo, and other parts of the Ondo state.
“Energy access will change in all our neighbourhoods, because the state government is committed to power generation, transmission, and distribution to the last mile. Rationing of electricity will stop any moment from next year, once the two substations are commissioned and energised.
“Our target is to provide energy access to up to 40 percent of the Ondo population and to sustain this in a manner that the people will begin to feel the impact of the government’s intervention in the power sector.
“Please note that this success story is happening already in some places in Akure, specifically for those who live around the Imafon corridor who now enjoys close to 20 hours of electricity.
“The duration of power that they had is what you will not think is possible in that type of location and that is why a lot of industries are springing up in that corridor. The next phase will then be how to deploy microgrid to other rural communities in Ondo state,” the Ondo State Energy Commissioner said.
Speaking about the focus of Akeredolu’s administration on the management of mineral resources in the state, Engr. Obe said that Governor Akeredolu has authorised a special task force to monitor and coordinate all the activities of mining organisations operating in all the forests around Ondo State.
He said, “A special committee has been set up for that specific purpose and the state will begin to generate more revenues from the activities of miners in the state. Our tax net will be expanded because every mining activity carried out in Ondo will be paid for and all these activities will be reflected in our records.
Explaining the Ondo State gas expansion project, Engr. Obe said that the state is at a junction to either innovate or begin to suffer. According to him, the deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry and the rising pump price of PMS, will continue to go up because of the expected rise in the international prices of crude oil.
He said, “This is one of the reasons why we are committed to statewide utilisations of gas commodities that we have in large volume.
“In Ondo state, we are already experimenting with conversion of petrol vehicles to CNG. Mr. Governor has given the go ahead for the conversion of all government’s vehicles to CNG.
“We will be having CNG stations across the state, in partnership with the private sector so that vehicles can be converted for our people and Ondo state will be insulated from the petrol pump price fluctuation. This is part of our strategy to ensure energy security in the state and we are committed to having storage of these resources for a long period of time.
Engr Obe spoke about the Invest Ondo 2 summit, which aims to promote the brand in Ondo State and attract investments worth over $2 billion. He added that the Invest Ondo 2 summit is expected to create 70,000 new jobs in the state, unlocking the full opportunities and potentials of the state to global investors.
He said “Ondo State is an attractive location for investors due to its strategic location, with a long coastline and connections to several other states in Nigeria. The state also has the deepest natural draft in Nigeria, making it an ideal location for a modern port.
“Under Governor Akeredolu’s administration, the state’s revenue has grown from about 700 million to over N3.5 billion in a month. This growth has been intentional, with the Governor ensuring that all cabinet members are doing the right thing and receiving the necessary support.” the commissioner said.
Engr Obe has announced that the seaport in Ondo State is moving into the next phase of development and that all authorizations have been obtained, indicating that the port will soon become a reality.
“Arakunrin Akeredolu, has expressed his commitment to the project, stating that the port will receive all the support it deserves. He has urged everyone to support the project and ensure its success.”
“The development is now in the next phase, we have got all authorisations. Arakunrin Akeredolu said, and I quote “We will give it all that it deserved, so he charged everyone to key into it,” the Commissioner said.
The Energy Commissioner mentioned that Ondo is one of the states that passed the subnational electric power sector law in 2020, and the Governor approved the electricity law in December 2020. This law has given the state government the authority to generate, transmit, and distribute electricity.
The state government aims to avoid wasting public funds by investing taxpayers’ money into what should be a private sector-driven initiative. The bureaucracy is not trained to run a business, so the focus will be on providing authorization, approval, a Certificate of Occupancy, and the regulatory framework needed for businesses to thrive.
“The constitutional amendment allowing sub nationals to operate effectively in the electricity market is seen as an enabler for private sector involvement. Private sector players can approach the sub nationals for licenses to distribute power, which is expected to improve service delivery and address inefficiencies in the power sector.” the Ondo State Commissioner said.
Engr. Obe further emphasizes that underperforming institutions in power that have failed to provide electricity for the citizens of Ondo state will have no other choice than to upgrade or pave the way for the entry of serious energy firms.
He said, “Some of their licenses may be withdrawn, while institutions that are willing to perform will be supported in the state. The welfare and wellbeing of our people especially in the area of electricity is going to be a priority”
The Ondo State Commissioner stated that the recent amendment to the Nigerian constitution and the assent given to the new electricity act by President Tinubu has provided the Ondo state government with the opportunity to amend the existing state legislation on electricity.
According to him, the amendment in the Ondo state electricity law, will govern areas that are not only covered by the national grid but also everywhere that needs electricity.
“The state government can now issue licenses and Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA) , an agency of the Federal Government, was standing in our way. This means that electricity will be available in all regions of the state, and the state government will be able to control the distribution of electricity.
“A recent electricity project approved by Governor Akeredolu was delayed recently, for nearly six months because the NEMSA asked us to pay a quantum of money which stopped us from energizing that project.
“NEMSA is requesting a payment of N500,000 for an unoccupied estate, which puts us in a Catch-22 situation. However, we can now issue a license, and NEMSA will no longer be able to prevent us from using the estate as a pilot scheme for other forms of embedded connections with the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC). We are confident that NEMSA will not try to impugn this process,” Engr. Obe.