The federal government yesterday disclosed that N16 billion has been approved by it for Rural Electrification Agency (REA) to undertake electrification projects across rural communities in Nigeria.
The Minister for State for Power, Hajiya Zainab Kuchi, made this known in Abuja while inaugurating an 11-man supervisory Board of REA as approved by President Goodluck Jonathan. She cautioned them not to unduly interfere in the management and operations of the REA.
Recall that an alleged N5.2 billion scam led to its initial closure in 2009.
The minister disclosed that the approved N16 billion was to undertake electrification projects across rural communities in Nigeria in line with the provisions of the Electric Sector Reforms Act (EPSR 2005) even as she said that government targets to achieve about 75 per cent rural electrification access by 2020 and as such, would not condone undue meddlesomeness of the new board in the affairs of REA.
Kuchi further told the Board that it was their responsibility to transparently handle all its procurement processes without undue interference from the Board in line with extant laws guiding its operations, adding that the rural economy of Nigeria remained important and in dire need of electrification.
She said: “There were backlogs of payments that needed to be addressed, even though we are still battling with some of these payments, the government has budgeted N16 billion this year as funding for the REA. There is also a strategy plan for REA that is still awaiting the president’s approval.
“As you take on your office today as members of the Board, let me make it clear that the Board should realise that its function is advisory and that of monitoring and evaluation of projects in the various catchment areas to which you will be assigned.
“Our target is to achieve 75 per cent rural electrification access by 2020. This is your charge. There should be unity and teamwork in your approach, while all procurement processes should be handled and managed by the agency transparently. The rural economy is so important to all Nigerians that we must ensure zero tolerance for corruption,” Kuchi added.