The 565 megawatts Odukpani Power Plant in Cross River will commence operation before the end of 2013, the Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku, said at a Citizens Forum/Town Hall meeting held on Tuesday in Calabar. The meeting was held as part of the ongoing good governance tour of the state.
He said that the power plant was the fourth that the team had visited since the beginning of the tour.
"The Odukpani Power Plant has been virtually completed; the only thing remaining now is gas supply. At present, there is a contract to supply gas to the power plant before the end of March. So, I want to assure Nigerians that before the end of the year the Odukpani power plant will begin to generate power for the country. This is the fourth power plant that we have visited since we started this tour across the country; so by 2014, power will no longer be a problem in Nigeria", he said.
The minister said that the team’s visit to Calabar Export Processing Zone (EPZ) was a revelation, adding that 69 companies were presently operating in the zone.
According to him, of the 69 companies, 43 are manufacturing companies, 10 are engaged in services while nine are involved in Oil/Gas.
"We saw Nigerians manufacturing transformers at EPZ with 99 per cent of the engineers being Nigerians, and we saw the high quality jobs that they are doing", he said.
He called on Power Holding Company of Nigeria and other agencies to stop importing equipment that were being manufactured in Nigeria to address the issue of poor patronage raised by local manufacturers.
Maku said that 2,800 direct jobs and 6,000 indirect jobs had being generated in the zone, adding that 8,800 people were working there.
The minister said that General Electric announced recently that it was investing 1 billion dollars in Nigeria.
He described the investment `as the sixth largest investment by the company in the Africa.
He said that the company’s facility might be located in Calabar, adding that a team from the company had already inspected the land designated for the company.
The minister said the company would manufacture high-profile equipment forlocal use and export.
``The company will manufacture gas turban equipment and high profile medical equipment.’’
In his speech, Mr Efiok Cobham, the acting governor of the state, commended the team for the visit and advised the journalists covering the tour to be objective in their reportage.
He warned that the tour should not be politicised.
"Let us not politicise the good governance tour because this will trivialise the essence of the tour", he said.
Also speaking, NUJ president Mohammed Garba urged Federal and state governments to reconstruct the Calabar-Ogoja-Benue road.
"Although, work is going on there, our general belief is that this road needs total reconstruction", he said.
The town hall meeting witnessed a large turnout of the citizens, including the civil society organisations, students and opinion leaders.