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Aba IPP comes on stream, 20 yrs after conception

he Aba Integrated Power Project (IIP), owned by the Geometric Power Group (GPG), finally came on stream on Monday, 20 years after it was conceived by its Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Prof. Barth Nnaji.

The power plant, located at Osisioma, near Aba, was inaugurated by President Bola Tinubu amidst wild jubilation by the Aba business community and residents.

Nnaji told the mammoth crowd at the venue of the inauguration that the plant was conceived in March 2004 as “a child of necessity by the desire to increase power supply nationwide”.

He said the project was the outcome of a meeting between Aba industrialists, Ariaria International Market Traders, along with the then World Bank President, James Wolfenson, and the then Minister of  Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, now Director-General, World Trade Organisation.

He said that the stakeholders felt the best way to give Aba metropolis reliable power supply was to build an autonomous power project, with excess power supplied to the national grid.

He said that the facility was licensed to produce 188 megawatts of electricity but was starting with 141 megawatts from three turbines.

The plant can generate its own power and distribute within the Aba Ring-Fenced Area (ARFA), which comprises nine of the 17 Local Government Areas of Abia.

The facility consists of two companies – Geometric Power Aba Limited (GPAL), which is the power generation arm, and Aba Power Limited Electric, its power distribution arm.

Nnaji said that the project gulped about $800 million, from conception to finish.

He said that it suffered hitches after GPAL acquired ARFA, and soon lost it to Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC), due to a wrong privatisation process in 2013.

He said that the resultant crisis compelled Geometric Power Group to seek redress in Court for nine years until former President Muhammadu Buhari, through Babatunde Fashola, the then Minister for Power, resolved the dispute in 2016.

Nnaji said that, thereafter, the company “went to work assiduously to pay off huge debts EEDC claimed GPAL owed it to the tune of $26 million to reclaim the ARFA”.

He said that the company also sent abroad its turbines not used for one day for refurbishment and perfected gas supply arrangements to power its existing three turbines.

The realisation and inauguration of the project was a product of Nnaji’s resilience, effort and commitment.

The inauguration was performed at the Head Office of GPG at Umuojima-Ogbu Community in Osisioma by the president, represented by Vice President Kashim Shetima.