President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday inaugurated the Ariaria Market Independent Power project, Aba in Abia to promote ease of doing business and ensure sustainable and improved economy in Nigeria.
Speaking at the event, Buhari said that the provision of a dedicated power supply to small businesses in the area would strengthen the “Made in Nigeria” program of the Federal Government which Abia had become synonymous with.
The president said that the present administration was committed to evolving sound economic policies and programs which were aimed at boosting national productivity.
He said that the project was a demonstration of the Federal Government resolve to protect the interest of every Nigerian irrespective of party differences and constitutional limitations.
Buhari said that he had been informed that Ariaria International market contained 37,000 shops, which would benefit from the project, adding that 4,000 shops had been connected to the new power supply.
According to him, electricity has no political colour and I was elected to office on the convincing argument my party made about our commitment to security, developing the economy and fighting corruption.
“I am told that in the past, traders in this market only got power supply for four hours a day and paid exorbitantly for it, which consequently affected the viability of many businesses,” he said.
Buhari said that the Federal Government was replicating the power project in Abia, Kano, Lagos and Ibadan, adding that plans were underway to execute similar initiative in 37 federal universities.
He commended Abia Government and the people of the state for their response and support toward the success of the power project in the state.
In his speech, Mr Raji Fashola, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, said that the project was targeted at making Nigeria a better place.
Fashola said that the policy that facilitated the execution of the power project had provided an avenue for the Federal Government to create an impact that would strengthen small businesses.
He said: “Federal Government approved the Mini-grid policy in 2016 and within one year of assumption in office, what should have been done in 2006 when the Power Sector Reform Act was done.
“There used to be 6,000 generators that used to supply power in the market by an inefficient way.
“So by that policy and their investments they are helping you and Nigeria fulfill the agreement you signed when you signed the Paris Climate Change agreement.”
In her address, Mrs Damilola Ogunbiyi, the Managing Director of Rural Electrification Agency, said that decentralised power was an important part of the power sector reform program.
Ogunbiyi said that the first phase of energising 4,000 shops had been completed, which had boosted the activities of 15,000 small and medium scale enterprises in the market.
She said that a metering system had been installed in each shop to enable consumers pay for what they used which was aimed at giving small businesses an enabling environment to thrive.
In his remark, Mr Nkaginieme Ubani, the Managing Director of Ariaria Market Energy Solutions Limited (AMES), said that AMES had deployed modular environmentally-friendly natural gas fuel generator to power the market.
Ubani said that the project had facilitated the reduction of emissions from the market by over 85 per cent and reduced the ambient noise in the market by over 50 per cent.
In his remarks, Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia thanked the Federal Government for ensuring the successful execution of the Ariaria Market Independent Power project in the state.
Ikpeazu said that the state government would continue to align with the policies and programs of the federal government to enable small businesses in Abia to thrive.