The idea that effective and efficient electricity supply could become a catalyst to check the dangers of radicalization of young, vulnerable and idle minds along religious fault-lines is beginning to sink in going by the upsurge in transmission lines upgrade that will cover the entire North Eastern states. It is indeed gratifying and fulfilling for those of us living in this part of the country to see, for the first time ever, a realistic and serious effort being made to deal with the problems of inadequate power supply in the region. We have always believed that the bloody insurgency in the region have their roots in the idleness and susceptibility of our young men who became a handy tool for the leadership of the Boko Haram group to cash in on and conscript thousands of them to undertake their gory and despicable bloodletting of immense proportion. It is therefore fair to, arguably, suggest that the insurgency will have been nipped into the bud if the required electricity transmission platforms have been upgraded to a level that majority of the young men were gainfully assimilated into the power related chains of businesses and thus become unavailable to manipulations. The power sector, more than any other, holds the key to providing sustainable avenues for people to venture and melt into the various chains and to be continuously and profitably engaged in legitimate pursuits thereby developing the capacity to operate beyond the reach of dubious and criminal elements in the society.
It is emotionally heartwarming and cheering to see a new positive thinking and a new perspective that has become the rule at the Transmission Company of Nigeria TCN since the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Usman Gur Muhammed took over barely a year ago. A technocrat that has gone through several financial, economic and energy conglomerates on the world stage, Gur Mohammed, who is also the Chairman of the West African Powerpool has, in line with the power sector reforms policy of the Muhammed Buhari administration, encapsulated an ambitious and daring transmission expansion agenda in the North east in order to address the debilitating transmission infrastructure deficit. The intent clearly is for the upgrades to be completed and deployed so that these platforms would key into the overall objective of helping the other governmental and nongovernmental organs to deal with the cankerworm of grinding poverty, despondency and squalor ravaging the region. Five critical and defining transmission lines projects, involving a total of 795 kilometers of transmission lines across the region together with all the required associated equipment are currently being mobilized. These include Damaturu-BuniYadi-Biu 132Kv Dc line of 126 kilometers; Damboa-Chibok-AskiraUba-Mubi of 132Kv Dc line of 123 Kilometers; Mayobelwa-Jada-Ganye 132Kv Dc line of 70 Kilometers; Maiduguri-Monguno-Marte-Dikwa-Bama 132Kv Dc line of 290 Kilometers and the Maiduguri-Bama-Gwoza 132Kv Dc line of 186 Kilometers. It is instructive to note that the new policy of project financing has also been radicalized in order to fast track delivery, save time and add value quickly. In the past, some fiscal policy drags have combined to stymie policy objective and therefore sabotage the effort. Cash backups are now sourced from organizations such as the African Development Bank, the World Bank and other development partners. Here, the expertise and connections of the Managing Director has always sufficed.
What made the whole exercise neater and all-encompassing is that the entire concept, design, social impact assessment and the resettlement action plan for the projects were made foolproof through standardization and following to the latter all national and international requirements. This is to determine their associated impact and proffer appropriate mitigation measures and help address issues pertaining to involuntary resettlement that may result. Without doubt, the Buhari administration has proved beyond all doubts its commitment and determination to address the issue of empowerment of the people of the North East who have suffered untold dislocation of their lives, economy and entire well being as well as a complete dislocation by an insurgency which exploited the inherent factors of poverty and illiteracy within the region. The president also deserves the commendation of the people of the region for the selfless manner he talent-searched around the world and finally appointed a man of impeccable capacity and competence in the person of Gur Mohammed who, under a year, has demonstrated that apart from high level education and exposure, the country needs people who understand the parameters of societal variables and values in order to channel human and fiscal resources to the attainment of clear cut objectives.
For a place like the North East to truly come out of the ashes of the senseless terror campaign, those at the helm at all levels must be prepared to evolve policies and programmes to address critical and fundamental constraints that have stood on the way to making life meaningful for the people. In the absence of strategic thinking and capacity building initiative for a people marooned by disasters such as the one in the North East, no effort should be spared to reintegrate them into the society by way of building their confidence, improving their economic well being and rebuilding all economic and social structures which, in the case of North East, have virtually been either torched or destroyed completely to a level that has made majority of the people to become destitute and displaced in their own country. The implication is that the grounds for recruitment by misguided religious fanatics and disgruntled political elements will be made the more fertile and the country will be the worse for it. A more economically prosperous and politically stable North East and indeed all parts of Nigeria becomes an instrument where democratic values and civilized behavior are enhanced and promoted.
Isa wrote this piece from Maiduguri, Borno State.