Indeed, Failure Is An Orphan

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By Kazie Uko

The social media space has been fouled with jaundiced opinions and spurious accounts by glory seekers since the successful inauguration of the Geometric Power plant in Aba, the commercial nerve of Abia State, on February 26, 2024.

Abia has never had it so good in its almost 33-year-old history in terms of infrastructure delivery like currently being experienced under Governor Otti, and one would have expected that the coming to life of the Geometric Power would have provided a rallying ground for entrepreneurs, industry professionals, politicians, artisans, traders, students and all other people of goodwill and progressives to set aside their egos and embrace the new wave of infrastructural development blowing across the state.

To be clear, the good people of Abia poured out in their numbers to welcome the latest infrastructure to be delivered in the state. They had for a very long time awaited the arrival of Geometric Power. Even though the structures were already in place way back in 2014, so many forces conspired to clog the wheel of progress, and so the project stalled. The more it stalled, the more the residents of Aba and its environs (nine local government areas in all), who are the immediate beneficiaries, groaned and groped in the dark. So it was an exhilarating moment, when on that fateful Monday afternoon, the tape was cut and the first of the three turbines was fired into life to formally commission the power project. The plant has the capacity to deliver 188MW of electricity to the Aba ring-fenced area, when fully operational.

However, the kind of assault launched against the people of Abia by the officers and agents of the immediate past government in the state, on social media, in this season of joy and rejoicing, is unwarranted and uncalled for. Even worse are the personal attacks on the state Governor, Dr. Alex Otti, OFR, by individuals who once occupied cabinet positions in the Government of Abia State, for no justifiable reasons other than to, perhaps, please their paymaster.

At a time the people of Nigeria and foreigners alike are celebrating with Abians, congratulating the government and the citizens on the successful completion and commissioning of the integrated power project, which promises to resolve the power crisis in the state and contribute to national development, it is discomfiting to see individuals, who have benefitted so much from the state bite the fingers that fed them.

The indiscretion so far exhibited by the former Commissioner for Information in the past government, Mr. John Okiyi Kalu, who has thrown caution to the wind and has been hauling insults at Governor Otti all over social media, leaves much to be desired. The Governor’s sin is that he saw to the completion and commissioning of the Geometric Power project, a journey he started with Professor Bartholomew Nnaji, Chairman and Group Managing Director of Geometric Power, while he was an Executive Director at First Bank and later, Group Managing Director of Diamond Bank, some 14 years ago.

It is common knowledge that the Aba Integrated Power Project, a dream that Professor Nnaji, a Nigerian former Minister of Power, had 20 years ago, is today a reality – thanks to his resilience and and the foresight of few patriotic Nigerians, including Governor Otti, who saw light at the end of the tunnel right from the beginning and supported the project with everything he could muster, both in his previous work life as a banker and currently as the Governor of Abia State.

Governor Otti’s involvement in the Geometric Power project is particularly exciting and touching. It is a story of fate. It is a lesson in patriotism and nation-building. Who would have thought that the man, who helped to breathe life into the project 14 years ago, by just doing his job in the bank, will end up being the one that would midwife the same project as a Governor?

The Geometric Power project is today easily the most celebrated infrastructure in Nigeria since the coming of the Global System of Mobile (GSM) telephony. It is the biggest and best news story coming out of Nigeria, currently saturated with stories of hunger, high cost of goods and services occasioned by very unfriendly and volatile exchange rate regime. Little wonder some are scrambling to associate themselves with the successful berthing of the power project, which by last account according to Professor Nnaji, had gulped a massive USD$800 million to complete. Unfortunately, these same people had opportunity spanning at least eight years to take all the glory, but they chose not to because it did not matter to them.

Posterity will be kind to Governor Otti for, as always, thinking outside the box. So, when fate brought him in contact with Professor Nnaji, while he was serving as an Executive Director at First Bank of Nigeria, he did not think twice launching into the deep with the renowned Professor of mechanical engineering. All he could see was opportunity to make a difference in the lives of a people and he threw his hat into the ring and gave hope to a dream that was fast fading.

As he recounted in his own words during the formal commissioning of the Geometric Power plant by the Vice President of Nigeria, Senator Kashim Shettima, on February 26, 2024, Governor Otti gave a verifiable account of his involvement with the power project. His testimony:

“Ladies and gentlemen, permit me to share my story with Geometric. In 2010, Prof. Barth Nnaji came to see me in First Bank, Lagos, where I served as an Executive Director. He needed the support of the bank to complete the project, the funding of which had been unfortunately stopped two years before, by the bank that originally started the project. This bank happened to be Diamond Bank. After securing approval for an $85m facility from First Bank of Nigeria, Geometric Power could not draw on the facility as it had become public knowledge that I was resuming as the Group Managing Director of Diamond Bank, shortly.

“As I resumed in Diamond on March 1, 2011, I put together a team that saw to the restructuring of the challenged facility and resumed funding of the project to completion. By the time I left Diamond towards the end of 2014, the three General Electric turbines and the 27km gas pipeline were in place. A combination of factors including ownership tussle over the Aba ring fence, sale of the oil block where the feed gas was going to come from to a new investor, and additional funding challenges conspired to delay project delivery for close to 10 years.

“On assumption of office May 29, 2023, my team and I quickly folded our sleeves and started working with Geometric to resolve the gas supply problem by directly interfacing with top management of NNPC and today we have gas flowing to the turbines.

“Just as recorded in Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good to them that love God”. I’m therefore pleased that 14 years down the line, God arranged everything such that the final resolution of all the issues and the firing of the turbines would happen when He had handed over the mantle of stewardship to me. May His name be glorified!”

Indeed, all things are working together for good for Governor Otti not only because he loves God, but also because he is called according to God’s purpose to be a blessing to Abia people after eight years of long suffering and 24 years of travesty of political leadership. God is using Governor Otti to wipe away the tears of His people and to compensate Abia people for the years the locusts and canker worms had eaten of their blessings. There is rejoicing in the land as the people can breathe freely again after many years of living in bondage, supervised by a devouring band of wicked politicians.

Today, the same people, who had the opportunity to help Geometric get off the ground but refused are thumping their chests in vain glory. They know very well that success has many relatives and friends but the same cannot be said of failure, an orphan. They are failures and Abians have already rejected them, and will continue to reject them.

Uko is the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Abia State. He wrote from Umuahia.