President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday in Islamabad, Pakistan assured Nigerians of a stable supply of electricity in major cities by the end of second quarters of next year.
Jonathan gave the assurance at an interactive session with the Nigerian community living in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The event hosted by the Nigerian High Commissioner to Pakistan, Dauda Danladi was part of the activities on the sidelines of the Summit of Eight Developing Nations (D-8) being attended by the President in Islamabad.
Responding to questions raised by some of the guests, the President said his administration had overcome the challenges of power generation to a very large extent. He identified the major challenge to be that of evacuation of the generated electricity due to poor infrastructure.
“Presently, we are generating more than what our transmission capability can evacuate. We have over 1000 megawatts of power that we cannot evacuate because of the transmission infrastructure that have been weak over the years and it was very recently that government started the intervention.
“But, we have projects that are going on, so before the end of the second quarter, almost middle of next year, most of these projects would have been inaugurated and we will be evacuating power generated. At that time, quite a number of cities will begin to have 24 hour of light.
“When we get to that point you will see that small scale enterprises will begin to make returns and that is the way we can create jobs,’’ he said. The President told the gathering that his administration had also made improvements on other sectors like roads, aviation, Agriculture and other infrastructure.
He said they, however, experienced set-back in achieving the set target because of the devastating flood across some States in the country. “We have the major flood that really set us back in some areas, otherwise we promised Nigerians that those of them who are in the Diaspora, when they come home this Christmas they would see significant changes.
“The kind of Airports they will pass through, then the roads they will drive from the airports to the cities and when they enter the cities may be you are used to not seeing light and putting on generator, you will not begin your stay by talking about the price of diesel again because you will have light throughout.
“We may not be able to achieve all that by December, because within the flood period, we could not work. Things that we had expected to finish by December, were halted within the flood, there was stagnation everywhere,’’ he said. The President admonished Nigerians in the Diaspora to always obey the laws of their host countries and shun illegal activities.
He charged them to be good ambassadors of the country and also assured them that the government would always protect their rights whenever they were trampled upon. "I will plead with us that I will be happy to come here and hear that there is no Nigerian in prison.
“When I went to a country like Uganda, I was told that there was no Nigerian in any detention and there were some other countries like that even in Europe and this news make me very happy. I don’t want to hear that Nigerians have served prison terms and have not been released, it is a negative story,’’ he said.
Earlier, the leader of the Nigerian community in Pakistan, Mr Isaac Omomolesho, had appealed to the President to look into the challenges of harassment, victimisation, illegal detention which they pass through in the hands of the Pakistani Authorities.
He said about 50 Nigerians who were sentenced by the Pakistani Authority and had completed their jail terms had not regained their freedom. Omomolesho also said that from about 835 Nigerians that lived in various cities of Pakistan more than 400 were without Nigerian Passports because of the challenges posed by the introduction of E-passport.
He appealed to the President to facilitate the release of those in detention and ensure the issuance of e-passport to those of them in Pakistan. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Olugbenga Ashiru assured that government would send an officer to the High Commission to facilitate the issuance of the new passport.
The High Commissioner in his welcome address extended condolences to the President on the death of his younger brother, Chief Meni Jonathan and a minute silence was observed in honour of the deceased. He noted that the visit of the President was significant after almost twenty years since a Nigerian President visited Pakistan.