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“LET THERE BE LIGHT": The Omo-Agege Style.


Bringing populist sensitivity to bear on official priorities can be very difficult but as Senator Omo-Agege has just shown through a gesture that impactfully transformed the yuletide season for some neglected communities, nothing is really impossible.

In a country like ours where population growth is on the increase, one of the most judicious long-term investments a government can make is on power and ensuring there is sustainable and effective electricity distribution to consumers. Improving power infrastructure with a priority for providing adequate access to electricity is critical when considering long-existing barriers to business opportunities, job creation and the growth of industrial activities in Nigeria.

Previous governments in Nigeria headed by the People's Democratic Party (PDP) did succeed in unbundling the Power Holding Company Nigeria, (PHCN). Before 2013, PHCN held a monopoly for the centralized generation, transmission and distribution of power across the nationwide electric power grid.

 Efforts by the past governments towards reforms in the power sector culminated into the introduction of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (EPSRA), in 2005. It was aimed at liberalizing the Nigerian power sector, engendering greater efficiency and sustainability in the system. As a consequence of the unbundling and privatization of PHCN into power generating companies and private distribution companies across the country, various challenges have continued to emanate.

In Nigeria, issues surrounding power supply are atop the Federal Government's developmental agenda. This was mostly prompted by the logical acknowledgement that without power, most developmental objectives, including industrial development and economic growth, cannot be realized.  Under the PMB administration, policy makers have continued with steady efforts, gradually overcoming onerous challenges towards addressing various issues in the power sector.

Without doubt, access to steady electricity supply for the majority of the Nigerian population is being officially accorded the highest degree of antecedence.

In recent times, few individual interventions like that of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege who is taking the initiative to provide electricity transformers for his people in Delta Central Senatorial district of Delta state effectively project the populist character of this quest.

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) avows a passionate commitment to populist ideals.
Obarisi Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, current Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate and leader of the APC in the South-South geo-political zone is known by all for a longstanding populist disposition that he cherishes as a fundamental part of a progressive ideology.

During his first term as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he personally procured several transformers for several communities in both rural and urban areas of the senatorial district.

Now, as Deputy President of Senate, he has emphatically elevated increased availability of electricity as a key factor with the potential to catalyze sustainable economic growth, not only for Delta Central Senatorial district but also, for other parts of the country.

For instance, one of the rather unusual Christmas gift that he gave some of his people, in addition to getting the Nigerian Senate’s approval for the establishment of a Federal Polytechnic in Orogun, Delta state, was the provision of a 500 kva transformer for the people of Ovara-Umusu, Orogun, in Ughelli North Local Government area of Delta State.

This was such a significant intervention for a community that has not had electricity supply for the past three years!

Predictably, this intervention by the DSP has sparked off profuse commendations and other positive reactions from the grassroots people of the area. Indeed, a good number of the people have cause to be happy for so many reasons. One can guess that in the spirit of the yuletide, restored electricity supply to the area gives a sense of divine restoration somewhat evocative of the biblical quotation: "Let there be light".

Truly, this development brings with it with so much economic multiplier effects. An area with restored electricity supply implies that businesses, such as hair salons, laundromats and welders, all of which rely on energy, can now function. Traders who deal in commodities and perishable food items will now have electricity to power their refrigerators for the preservation of such food items. Various forms of new investments can also be attracted to this area because of the availability of electricity.

Increasingly, through various initiatives, the Deputy President of the Senate is fulfilling his social contract and electoral mandate with the people of his constituency.
In any modern society, there is no real substitute for power. Once a community is lit by electricity, a new life, an intense liveliness instantly takes the place of dreary living.

The federal, state and local government councils across the nation will do well to justify citizens' huge expectations for power supply and the improved standard of living that such social infrastructure brings. However, for long-marginalized communities, proactive individual efforts like that of the DSP really means a lot.

Christmas is the season of lights; thus, for communities that are getting a reprieve from years of darkness through the intervention of Senator Omo-Agege, there is now good reason for really good cheer.

That is how a leader's sensitivity to populist expectations works out solutions and moves his people forward!

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