Debonair Emetulu Chukwuemeke Charles was born on October 26, 1966 in Abbi town in Ndokwa West Local Government Area of Delta State. He attended the state primary school, Rumuomasi, Port Harcourt in Rivers State from 1972 – 1978 where he got his First School Leaving Certificate and later proceeded to James Welch Grammar School Emevor in Delta State from 1978 – 1983 where he sat for his West African School Certificate result. Thereafter, he proceeded to the defunct Bendel State University Abraka campus from 1984 – 1987 where he bagged the Certificate of Education.
Desirous of getting to the pinnacle of his educational career, he proceeded to the Delta State University, Abraka in Delta State from 1989 – 1992 where he got his Bachelors Degree in English Language Education.
He started his working career with Jormax Commercial College, Port Harcourt from 1988 – 1989 and Our Lady of Fatima Girls’ School, Kaduna (NYSC) 1994 – 1995 as a tutor respectively. He also worked as operations manager, IFEM Nigeria Ltd, Port Harcourt from 1995 – 1998 and later Managing Director, Fields of Gold Enterprises from 1998 – June 2011.
The likable bloke was member, Delta State Post Primary Education Board from 2008-2010, Special Assistant to the Special Project Director, Ogbe-Ijoh market and Udu Harbour market project from 2006 – 2007.
Political aide to the Hon. Commissioner for Commerce And Industry, Delta State from 2003 – 2005.
He was Editor-in-Chief, Kadcorps publication, NYSC, Kaduna, 1994 —1995.Chairman, publicity and enlightenment committee NYSC, Kaduna, 1994 —1995,Adviser to the president on Parliamentary Matters, Student Union Government, Bendel State University, 1985 -1986.
Charles Emetulu is currently the Delta State Commissioner for Energy. He recently spoke with the duo of National WAVES Publisher, JIMMY ENYEH and Assistant Editor, EMMANUEL FATEMAN on the achievement of Delta State government as regards the energy sector.
What have you been able to do since you came on board as the Commissioner for Energy?
Well, I came on board second week of August 2011, so I am about three years now in the ministry. It is not about what I have done but what the government has done in the sector. The sooner we stop personalizing public office, the safer and better for us. Whatever we do here is collective and I cannot do anything here without the approval of the state executive council or the governor of the state. Whatever I do as the member of the EXCO is the achievement of the EXCO that has a template. It is government. Whatever the other person leaves there you continue from there. I am a very strong apostle of continuity in governance and government. People should not model policies and programme to suit their sentiment but to suit our collective sentiment. You will discover that His Excellency, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan for instance, the kind of policies he has. Sometimes, you want to ask him if it is normal (Oga, are you thinking about yourself at all?)because he keeps thinking about tomorrow,. tomorrow and tomorrow when he will no longer be here in charge. It is because he understands that it is not about him, him ends with his family, he can manage his family on a daily basis. The collective begins after his family. So what we do here is tailored to the man who is in charge of the state.
Delta is on the move as regards infrastructure development. We are an infrastructure ministry. Basically by that, I mean that we need to develop these areas. The primary function we have here is enhancing power supply, enhancing or complimenting the effort of the federal government in the power sector, I mean the electricity power and in that regard, we have done a lot.
In the last three years, we have a portfolio close to 120 projects. That we are doing these projects are largely in the area of injection of transformers and building of step-down, that is injection stations to compliment what other governments are doing in the NDAs so to say. Now Delta is running a programme called Delta beyond oil, you will agree with me that for any economy to thrive, power is the most critical of utilities needed to make the economy to thrive. Things will be cheaper, manufacturing and other services are a bit expensive because people look out for other source of power to go on with their business.
The state government should clear direction determination in these regards. As at when this ministry was created some 13 years ago, you will attain this as legality because at that time, power was an exclusive preserve of the federal government but the state government has to intervene. The infrastructure was breaking down, the place was becoming dilapidated. This ministry was carved out of ministry of works of old and became a separate ministry. Since its creation, kilometers of wiring electrification has been done. We have done 7.5kvs step down in Abi. We have done for Olomoro, and electrification in Ariborodo, as you know, has a big polytechnic going on there and we need to give them power supply and that work is ongoing, major works are going to cross through two rivers just to put light there. Those are the major ones. We are doing 7.5kv in Agume, that is also going on.
Now basically, all of these things we are doing are being sponsored by our ministry. We have actually spent two billion naira on transformers in the last three years. Of that number, 350 was KVS and we have 10 of 75 step-downs and we have two KVS.
We have injected utility in all of them, in all their networks apart from the 65 remaining. So that tells you that enormous work is being done. Beyond that, is the fact that we got cut in the area of privatization, the regulation of the sector particularly the area distribution of power and what we quickly did as a government was to key into what the federal government was doing. Our action was informed by a lot of factors. Critical is the fact that we believed that the rural economics, will they run? If they can run well, they can feed the entire country, the rural can feed the urban.
We have a dedicated parastatal called the RDA, devoted entirely to electrification of the rural areas. The ministry itself does a lot of work in the rural areas and we have done quite a lot. If the federal government was going to be selling the assets, we felt that we deserve to be part of the verification of asset. As I have explained before in a conference in Abuja, the verification was to know what to put in place and that was done.
Delta state houses about two power plants, Sapele and Asaba , other idea is that these are investment which will yield. From whatever profit we make, we intend to continue to develop our areas, for the private investors, they might have taken loans to get going and its first target will be to quickly recoup. In doing that recouping, it is intensely in popular areas. For instance, we are in Asaba now. If you do a one kilometer in Asaba, you know there will be density of power population there. If you do a five kilometer in Ila, it will be pantry. Now the same quantity of cable wiring we need to do here, we use same quantity in Ila.
We can assume that the money you will make here will be like times ten that you make in Ila. Am now talking of one small part of Asaba now. Private investor target quick recovery. When that happens, the rural areas will be going back to a stone age where there will be no light. So somebody needs to be firm to recap for them, that is what the state government has done by getting smaller equities in this country. In the long run, long term, again I told you it will yield good dividends for this government. The passion the state governor has for Delta state is a wonderful one.
This ministry has done an MOU with the Energy Commission of Nigeria. This ministry engages international energy agency, like Paris, France to do for Delta state an `energy missed analysis, that means that policy on federal endowment , energy wise, power wise. Do I have good quality among that? can I do solar? do I have good sun? good quality water so that I can do hydro or is it that the wind coming is okay so that I can do wind energy? We have that report. We are ready and prepared in this area and we currently have an MOU to sign with sky power that will be in one of our forum in Abuja. That agreement allows them to do research on solar energy and build plants across Delta state, we are not expecting not less than 1000 MWT across Delta state. Currently, Delta gets less than 120 MWT everyday. So when the solar would have been taken care of perfectly. We are doing all that. We have done extensive work in the area of having stable power supply. We have a gas master plan for Delta state and my ideal again is we are rich in gas and the world knows that we are very rich in oil but we also have enough gas so for us to do a master plan again for Delta state would be another achievement.
No doubt, you have performed splendidly well based on what is on ground but Asaba is always having challenges as regards electricity. What explains this?
Asaba is in a sorry state. Basically because this is the only state that does not have a dedicated power and a step down. Ordinarily, it is not a state government project. It is a federal government project. We thank God for President Jonathan’s intervention. We thank God for Governor Uduaghan’s intervention. The president promised that he will fix the Asaba step down and work is already on going. His Excellency, the governor of Delta State represents the South South zone on the board of the NIPP. NIPP is funded on tripartite fashion. It is funded by the federal, state and local governments. So, the project going on in Ibusa road, the Asaba step down is an NIPP project. The substation itself is 80% completed. You can verify this. The phase they are now is for TCN to bring the power. Now as concession, the initial plan was to do for Asaba 150 megawatts. As I speak with you apart from the 150 megawatts that has been installed, there are two additional ones, totally 120 megawatts, 60, 60 megawatts, in other words, it will be 270 megawatts. That will be more than sufficient power supply for Asaba. It might not bring 24hours power supply but it will greatly help the Asaba situation. It will mean that if there is light in other part of the country, there will be light in Asaba. Presently, there could be light in other part of the state and there will not be light in Asaba because we do not have a dedicated step down. I give you an example. There is this thing they call junction box in the house. That is where all the light in the house is connected but Asaba does not have a junction box. And that is where the problem lies.
How is your office cooperating with the federal government to ensure the project to give Asaba a dedicated step down succeeds?
Although it is a federal project, the Delta State government has been quite supportive in terms of logistics. I visit the site regularly to encourage the workers. We have to be supportive because at the long run we shall be the ones to enjoy the electricity and not the federal government..I must add that as a state government, we are also building an independent power plant. The commence title is 128 megawatts, two unit sources. The work is on- going. We have a license for it from NEC and it is expandable by 450 megawatts.
What are the challenges that have confronted you and how have you been able to surmount it?
There are lots of problems and we are trying to overcome them. Now, if am not in the office why do I have to leave the light on, if your in your sitting room, switch on your light and off the one in the bedroom. If you go around this country, you will see that must people don’t preserve light and power save is technically power generated. Now talking challenges, the regular ones, government has competing areas but by and large before now, the public power supply were a challenge, if I need to get a transformer here, I need to apply to the federal government pay some statutory fee and the work is done. They will have to come and certify it with a lot of checking, I have gotten the cables, the pillars everything needed to be done is in place and another person collects the revenue that controls me and I don’t get a kobo from it.
Apart from that, after I release all of those things, I lose ownership. That alone, cable theft are more or less like crude oil, after much work is done, people carefully vandalize cables. They carefully un-screw them from the transformer and those are the major challenges. Sometime, they go and vandalize the oil from the transformers, these are the major challenges we have here. Sometimes, they damage the transformers so much so that we have to replace the transformers. It is just as if having your child in school and every term, he or she remains in one place, even though you are a billionaire one day you will ask a question. Why wasting such money on such a child who is always repeating? That is, what kind of situation is that? Then you will ascertained that Delta is powered outreach, Warri , Ughelli etc are powered with street light, drop our generators for twelve hours, six to six pm, that is till dawn. It is the same people who are enjoying all these, still go back to siphon gas from the transformers, they go as far removing kick starters, battery, a case where 2.5km of cables disappear on ground. Another case where they came with a van to still our cables, luckily for us, our security caught them. it is sad.
Specifically, what are you doing to checkmate vandals from vandalizing transformers and other equipments?
Well, if you look around my office, you will not see any transformer or cable because, we give the communities the jobs to do by themselves. We give them transformer and tell them to provide adequate security. They are the end user and should be able to protect their transformers. Now that privatization is the order of the day. We install transformers and hand over same to the appropriate quarters to protect.