By Edith Ike-Eboh
Mr Chinedu OnyeIzu, aneEnergy expert has advised the federal government to expand the project scope of Ajaokute- Kaduna-Kano (AKK) gas pipeline project for effective utilisation.
Onyeizu, Chief Executive Officer, AfriPERA, an Energy and Infrastructure Policy research organisation gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Sunday in Abuja.
“I will suggest that the government expand the project scope to include other value based initiatives like re- designing the gas pipeline corridor to capture connecting gas to high value/high economy.
“This will help in boosting clusters such as existing industrial layouts and factories that currently struggle to stay afloat due to lack of affordable and reliable power.
“ In addition to redesigning the Trans- Nigerian gas masterplan to follow high value/high economic impact corridor, the federal government can start initiating other projects that could be tied to the existing scope.
“ For example, we can plan to have a Public Private Partnership (PPP) driven industrial parks in the six geopolitical zones,’’ he said.
According to him, the Cargo rail lines that are being constructed by the federal government can be designed to pass through these industrial parks and funnel down to our seaports in Port Harcourt, Akwa-Ibom and Lagos State for easy evacuation of manufactured goods for export.
He noted that Nigeria must start approaching nation building and transformation of the economy from an integrated perspective.
“Project initiation should be based on clear economic values and less of political considerations.
“ I will advise the president to unbundle the ministry of power, housing and works.
“ Nigeria needs a separate ministry of power and energy resources. A scenario where the ministry is enabled to manage all key sources of energy including related projects.
“I believe Nigeria will witness a speedy realisation of energy independence because natural gas resource, coal, solar, hydro and other sources of energy will be utilised by the ministry to provide solutions to our electricity and power problems,’’ he said
On the host community on the gas projects, he said that managing hostile communities would be a major challenge
He said that many laudable projects had got aborted because local communities where the pipelines would traverse were not aligned with the objectives of the project.
He said that a good community relations team would be required to engage the people and, in some cases, the government should be willing to compensate persons that might be affected by the project.
“Another concern to note is policy continuity. There have been cases whereby many good projects have been abandoned in Nigeria due to change in government.
“ I believe that one way to avoid this challenge is to carry all major stakeholders including if possible, political parties along from the conceptual phase of the project.
“ It could be possible that if major stakeholders from other interest groups are aligned with the objectives of the project from inception, even if government changes, they will continue with the project,’’ he said
He noted that there is need for seekers of high offices in the country to begin to see government as a continuum which means that laudable projects initiated by the past administration should not be abandoned.
He commended President Mohammadu Buhari administration for adhering to this rule by completing implementing some of the projects initiated by Dr. Goodluck Jonathan administration.
The culture of continuation of sound policies of previous administration, he said was not only cost effective, it would also de-risk projects initiated by the federal government and build confidence in foreign major project lenders and financiers.(NAN)