• Monday, April 15, 2024
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Why I located $800m Geometric Power plant in Aba- Barth Nnaji

Ex-minister of power, Nnaji, drums support for Jonathan

Barth Nnaji, chairman of Geometric Power Group, has attributed the reason he developed the $800m Geometric Power Plant in Aba to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the late James Wolfohnson.

He disclosed this at the recently convened leadership colloquium on “Igbo Leadership and Development.”

Nnaji linked the origins of the Aba power plant to the time when the late James Wolfohnson, a former president of the World Bank, was called to Aba by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the former minister of finance for Nigeria, to witness personally the enormous economic and technological potential of Aba.

He said, “After the visit in 2004, the duo asked me to consider building a 50-megawatt power plant in Abia for manufacturers, both big ones like the Star Paper Mill and small ones like the hundreds of excellent shoemakers and clothiers at the famous Ariaria Market.

“They approached me obviously because I had led a small team of dedicated Nigerian engineers and entrepreneurs to build a 22megawatt Emergency Plant in Abuja in 2001 for the supply of electricity to State House, the NNPC headquarters, the Abuja Business District, and other places.

“I acceded to the request by Okonjo-Iweala and Wolfohnson. What the two did not realize was that my enthusiastic acceptance was because the plant would be located in Aba. This city has a special place in the heart and mind of every person interested in our country’s rapid progress: It is the home of indigenous manufacturing, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Nnaji emphasised his enthusiasm for Nigeria’s quick development, beginning with Ala Igbo, citing the region’s tremendous technological and economic potential and the structural issues it has encountered since the end of the Nigerian Civil War in 1970.

“Geometric Power Limited is making its contribution to help reclaim the old economic days of the Great Zik of Africa, M.I. Okpara, and many others. Once Geometric Power addresses the electricity challenge in nine out of 17 local government areas in Abia State fully, not even the sky will be the limit of the attainments of the people and government of Abia State. Abia can set the stage of development miracle which has been waiting to happen,” he said.

Nnaji also revealed that if the 188-megawatt Geometric Power Plant in Aba and the Aba Power distribution company in Osisioma Industrial Layout had been situated in Ikeja, the Ilupeju Industrial Estate in Lagos State, the Agbara Industrial Layout in Ogun State, or somewhere in the vicinity of the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja, they would have been more profitable ventures.

Nnaji also said, “The return on investment would have been quicker and bigger (in these locations). However, we would have missed the strategic reason for locating both the generation and distribution arms of Geometric Power Group. Only the investors and promoters of Geometric Power would have benefitted directly, but the people and governments of Ala-Igbo would be the losers.”

He stated that his firsthand experience of what industrialists in Igbo land were going through was another reason why he chose to build the plant.

“As a professor of manufacturing engineering in the United States in the 1990s, I decided to build a plant in Emene, Enugu, to produce vehicle spare parts, including engines, of the highest standard in the world. After all, I had watched my former students from Taiwan and other places in Southeast Asia rush home to produce sophisticated auto parts and engines.

“So, we purchased a large swath of land for this purpose, but when my South Korean partners visited Enugu, it became obvious that the project would not take off principally because of poor electricity. While I was thinking of how to help resolve the electricity problem in Ala Igbo, Okonjo-Iweala and Wolfohnson made the request. The rest is history,” Nnaji added.

Nnaji described the journey in the words of Winston Churchill, former British prime minister, “it has since 2004 been tears, sweat, and blood.”

“I don’t want to tell the story of sweat, blood, and tears now; all I can say now is the game is worth the candle. Nothing can give as much fulfillment and satisfaction as working wholeheartedly for your people,” he added.