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Darkness rescinds, as light shines on Upake community, two decades after

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Aliyu Magaji (left), Mrs. Folashade Ayoade, Sen. Yakubu Oseni, Mrs. Damilola Ogunbiyi, Prince Akaba, Dr. Sanusi Ohiare and other dignitaries at the event

“I was a toddler when the community started asking for electricity. That was over 25 years ago. In 2019, our dream has come to pass. This is a fishing community and with electricity, our women can preserve their fish. With oven, they can smoke their fish and freezer to preserve it. This will have a great impact on our economy.”

These words of Haruna Bashiru, a resident of Upake community in Ajaokuta Local Government Area of Kogi State capture the neglect the community had suffered for decades.

But two weeks ago, darkness rescinded and ray of light shone on Upake. Courtesy of commissioning of 80 kilowatt (KW) solar hybrid mini grid power plant by the Federal Government’s Rural Electrification Agency (REA). A total of 12 communities including Upake has been listed as beneficiaries of the first set of grants under the Rural Electrification Fund, which is part of REA initiative.

Also a student, Monday Muslimat, said, “I am very happy about this development. Since I was born this is the first time I would be experiencing electricity. This is so amazing. Everybody is happy. We thank the government for lighting our community. Indeed, it is a life changing experience.”

In his address, the Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mrs. Ayoade expressed gratitude to the Federal Government for the initiative.

“It is with great pride that Kogi State has collaborated with the Federal Government through the Rural Electrification Agency and the private sector to implement this impressive project that will ensure clean, safe and reliable electricity for the entire Upake community and its neighbouring community – Obangede community.

“The use of clean energy technologies in the quest to provide electricity is an added advantage to rural communities, who have been accustomed to using generators, candles, kerosene lamps and other unsafe energy sources over time. With clean energy sources, such as this solar mini grid, the health and environmental wellbeing of our people will be safeguarded.”

The governor noted that the state is open for investment and business opportunities. “We welcome industrialization in agriculture, fishing, steel manufacturing and other industries in our state. And it all starts here in Upake as reliable electricity will certainly begin a chain reaction from rural community to the state level and onwards to the national stage.”

In her remarks, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Rural Electrification Agency, Mrs Damilola Ogunbiyi reiterated the commitment of the Buhari-led administration in fulfilling its mandate to ensure electricity access for Nigerians.

She stated that more families and businesses in Upake, will have access to clean, sustainable and reliable electricity from the sun.

“Without doubt, the solar hybrid power power project being commissioned today would enhance productivity and provides jobs in Upake. Not only that, it would also benefit the 2,976 members of Upake community as families and businesses in Upake, will have access to clean, sustainable and reliable electricity from the sun. From this project alone, 32 jobs were created. From Project Managers to Electricians, Welders, Bricklayers, etc., there was significant impact across the entire project value chain. We are hopeful that the jobs created will impact not just the immediate community, but Kogi State in general.”

In his remarks, the Senator representing Kogi Central, Yakubu Oseni, expressed gratitude on behalf of the members of his constituency reiterating the benefits that they all stood to enjoy as a result of the project. He said

“Our women will be able to process their Cassava in a less stressful manner and our fishermen can preserve their products now that there is reliable electricity. I believe that the quality of lives in Upake community will be improved because of this project and I look forward to seeing similar projects being installed in other communities under my leadership.”

The Community Head (The Ananyiwa of Upake), His Royal Highness, Ibrahim Okenyi Eneye said “I stand here representing the people of our dear community. Just as you assured us of the plans to complete this project from the first day you visited us, I want to assure you that we will work with the developer to make sure that no harm will come to this project. It is our mini grid and we will protect it as our property.”

On his part, Chairman, House of Represenatves on Power, Hon. Aliyu Magaji said, “Oftentimes, the focus is on densely populated areas and on-grid electricity. We are all here today, to categorically state that every corner of rural Nigeria must be energized. That is why this commissioning is of great importance. The people of Upake community are indeed blessed to be recipients of this life changing. The power sector is critical to every aspect of Nigeria’s economy. With electricity in our big cities or small rural communities, Nigeria can attain its full developmental capacity. Therefore, reliable electricity is a necessity for all Nigerians.”

Ohinoyi of Ebira Land, Alhaji Ado Ibrahim noted that electricity is a vehicle of necessity that drives the economy.

“For any community to progress, basic amenities need to be accessible. Electricity is a necessity that has a ripple effect on other human needs. With this solar plant facility, there will be a significant improvement in the quality of life for Upake indigenes and even the environment. It is evident that the Federal Government, under the Buhari administration, is ensuring the basic needs of Nigerians are met. Small communities like Upake are not left out of the Government’s developmental plans because as we can see, the Rural Electrification Agency is working hard to provide electricity to the often-forgotten rural communities. It is an honour that one of the communities in Ebiraland was considered viable for this laudable Federal Government initiative.”

In his vote of thanks, the Executive Director of the Rural Electrification Fund, Dr. Sanusi Ohiare, an indigene of Kogi State, appreciated the Federal Government, the developer, the Board and Management of REA and the Upake community for their support throughout the course of project.


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