…says self-serving policies bane of development
Tony Elumelu, founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, has called for regulatory structures that would drive investments in Nigeria’s power sector, and ensure sustainable, robust power supply that the country so urgently needs.
Emumelu described as ironic, the fact that Nigeria has been unable to optimally operate its power plants due to lack of gas, despite abundant resources.
The philanthropist raised this concern in Abuja at the ongoing annual conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).
“We have idle gas fields and there is so much private capital to make the needed investments for gas production. Yet, we cannot produce gas to power our economy and 21st-century industrialisation – thanks to a short-sighted regulatory regime and self-serving policies that keep our people permanently in the dark. This has to change,” he stated.
Citing an example with TransAfamPower Plant which belongs to his own Transcorp Group and has an installed capacity of 1000 megawatts, Elumelu recalled how the Federal Government made a significant investment to acquire 240 megawatts of fast power turbines from General Electric (GE), which literally stalled due to lack of gas.
“For context, 240 megawatts of electricity can power about one million homes in Nigeria. Yet GE has threatened to pull out of the project, because our nation – with some of the largest gas reserves globally, could not provide 65mm scuffs of gas needed for the comprehensive testing of the installed fast power plant”, Elumelu stated.
The philanthropist also stressed the need to invest in the youth, while creating the right environment for entrepreneurship to thrive.
According to him, “When entrepreneurs succeed, we succeed as a nation. If they don’t, we all fail.”
“We need to renew our commitment to our youth, provide them with the means to succeed in Nigeria – not beyond Nigeria. This means not just investment in our education system, but in our entrepreneurial culture.”
Noting that nations that prioritise their young, excel, he emphasised that Nigeria remains a nation of entrepreneurs and stands to benefit from the social and economic returns that entrepreneurship creates if harnessed.
Elumelu further pointed out that nurturing entrepreneurship is not merely an economic endeavour, but a social responsibility. According to him, by empowering the youth, supporting start-ups and SMEs, the private sector contributes to equitable wealth distribution, job creation, and social advancement.
“It paves the way for economic empowerment that uplifts communities and contributes to a more inclusive society. We all owe this to our people, even for our own enlightened self-interest”, he also said.
Speaking further, he stressed the need for Nigeria to begin the process of nation-building, which he noted as not a quick fix, but entails sacrifices.
He said transforming Nigeria is a journey that demands collective dedication, building across political affiliations, ethnic differences, and socioeconomic differences.
“We cannot keep doing the same things and expect different outcomes”, Elumelu stressed, while pointing out how the country has suffered unnecessary division and the squandering of its heritage.
For him, “Nation-building is a call to arms – a vital task – a necessity. At its core, nation-building is the intricate process of forging a cohesive, harmonious, and united society, out of diverse individuals, culture, and ideologies.
“It is the art of constructing a shared identity, purpose, and vision that transcends all individual interests.”