By Obas Esiedesa
Residents of Okene in Kogi State trooped out in large numbers to welcome a team from the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) on Wednesday as it commissioned two mini-grid systems for hospitals in Ukpogo and Adavi-Eba communities.
The mini-grid systems, a 65kWp solar hybrid project for the 250-bed cottage hospital in Ukpogo in Okene LGA and a 5.4kWp solar mini-grid for Government Cottage Hospital, Adavi-Eba in Adavi LGA were built by the REA as part of Federal Government programme to provide 24 hours power supply primary health centre across the country.
The REA team led by REA Managing Director, Engr. Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad was met at the entrance of Okene by a large number of youth singing and dancing in praise of the agency.
Speaking at the site of the project in Ukpogo, Engr. Ahmad explained that as the Federal Government agency mandated to provide power supply to unserved and under-served communities and areas of the country, REA was determined to ensure that communities are provided with electricity to meet their basic needs.
He explained that the interventions at cottage hospitals would provide communities with clean, safe and reliable energy to deliver better healthcare services.
He said: “These interventions are timely and necessary, following the strain the COVID-19 pandemic had on our healthcare infrastructure in the last couple of months. There is therefore an urgent need to continue to close the gap between reliable and sustainable energy and quality healthcare delivery across the nation”.
He noted that “providing and increasing energy access to millions of Nigerians through off-grid solutions as mandated by the Federal Government is critical as the end goal is to ensure the equitable delivery of the social and economic benefits that will improve lives across the nation.
“At REA, it is our plan to continue to maintain our renewed objectives to provide clean, safe and reliable energy for healthcare infrastructure in Nigeria to function and serve Nigerians better. Quality healthcare delivery relies on sustainable energy.
“We are in no doubt about the continued impact of the Federal Government’s Power Sector Roadmap as well as our capacity to leverage on our off-grid expertise and potential to transform and catalyse rural socio-economic growth and development in Nigeria”, he added.
He assured both communities and the Kogi State Government that REA would continue to support them through intervention projects.
Speaking earlier at the Palace of the Ohinoyi of Igbiraland, Ahmad assured HRM (Dr) Ado Ibrahim that REA would bring more solar powered street lights to brighten the streets at night.
On his part, the monarch commended the agency for its work in the communities, and pledged his support for REA works.
Also speaking the project site, the Executive Director, Rural Electrification Funds (REF) at REA, Dr. Sanusi Mohammed Ohiare, assured that the communities would be connected to the grid in the nearest future as he urged management of the hospital to ensure the projects are well maintained.
Ohiare, an indigene of Adavi, said: “With the energy deficit in the country, President Muhammadu Buhari has continued to give REA the support so that we can bring this kind of intervention. We would not stop at hospitals because there are communities we would extend the projects”.
On his part, Governor Yahaya Bello, who was represented by his Special Adviser on Energy and Power, Otaite Emineto, urged REA to intervene in other tertiary institutions in the state.
“We must ask for more and it would gladden our heart that the three tertiary institutions in the state as well as over 236 Primary Health Care (PHC) facilities are considered in your Energising Education Initiative.”
Highlight of the visit was the conferment of Chieftaincy titles on Engr Ahmad and Dr. Ohiare by the traditional ruler of Adavi community.