…Inaugurates campaign for return of looted Artifacts***
Alhaji Saleh Mamman, the Minister of Power has reiterated Federal Government’s determination to address the country`s power challenges.
Mamman gave the assurance on Thursday in Doka, a community in Kachia Local Government Area of Kaduna State, while speaking at the commissioning of a 47.5 solar energy system at the Doka Rural Hospital, charging members of the community to protect the facility.
The project was funded by the European Union and implemented by the UKAid in partnership with the Kaduna State Government.
The minister said the project was particularly unique because it was conceived under the technical assistance programme through the Nigerian solar programme.
The minister said the project demonstrated how partnership and collaboration among stakeholders could lead to concrete results.
“In this case, the Department for International Development (DFID) partnered with Kaduna state government to develop this project, providing reliable electricity supply.
“This will improve the lives of the people through improved health care, education, water and job creation.
“Our being here today, reflects a deliberate demonstration of the importance both the state and Federal Government attached to the provision of electricity in remote and underserved communities across the country,’’ the minister said.
He said that government intended to use distributed power generation with locally available resource such as solar to achieve the feat, saying that the support received from development partners was appreciated.
Mamman noted that the Federal Government would continue to provide enabling environment in the form of policy and regulatory frameworks and basic infrastructure to ensure the provision of affordable electricity across the country.
The minister said that the Federal Government had developed the required policies and regulatory instruments that allowed for close working relationship with development partners and the private sector.
This, the minister said, was to lay a solid foundation upon which Nigerians would have access to reliable and sustainable electricity supply at affordable prices.
He listed some of the policies to include Rural Electricity Strategy and Implementation Plan, Mini-Grid Regulations, and Sustainable Energy for All.
The minister said new programmes had also been initiated to support off-grid power which included Renewable Energy Micro-Utility, Energy Education Programme and Energising Economy Programme.
He said that at least, 20 new mini-grid projects had been commissioned across the country between 2017 and 2018 which were mostly developed through public private partnership.
“Our grid power generation capacity today is over 7,500 MW, the transmission capacity has also improved to 7,000MW.
“This development is responsible for the improvement in power supply witnessed by customers all over the country recently.
“Distribution remains the weak link within our system and is receiving the desired attention at optimising her operations for the good of all.
“It is my belief that with these efforts, we will soon address the problems of power supply to our teeming population, creating new economic and social development for our people,’’ the minister said.
Speaking at the event, Mr Ketil Karlsen, Head of European Union Delegation to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), said affordable reliable energy was key to the development of every society.
He said that it would be impossible to build any economy without energy, saying that renewable energy was part of solution of most of the challenges confronting the country.
Karlsen said the European Union would continue to work with the Federal Government to build a better society for the ordinary citizen.
Dr. Hadiza Balarabe who represented the Kaduna State Governor at the event, thanked development partners for the project noting that no society could function without a healthy people.
In the meantime, the Federal Government on Thursday inaugurated the Campaign for The Return and Restitution of Nigeria’s Looted/Smuggled Artifacts from around the world.
Announcing the inauguration at a media briefing in Lagos, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said government is putting on notice all those who are holding on to the nation’s cultural property anywhere in the world to return them
“We are coming for them, using all legal and diplomatic instruments available.
“We are under no illusion that this will be an easy task, but no one should also doubt our determination to make a success of this campaign.
“We cannot imagine by what logic an Ife Bronze or a Benin Bronze or a Nok Terracotta can belong to any other part of the globe except to the people of Nigeria, whose ancestors made them.
“We have never laid claim to the Mona Lisa or a Rembrandt.
“Those who looted our heritage resources, especially during the 19th century wars, or those/who smuggled them out of the country for pecuniary reasons, have simply encouraged the impoverishment of our heritage and stealing of our past,” he said.
According to Mohammed, the campaign is statutorily supported by UNESCO and ECOWAS Article 4 of the UNESCO 1970 Convention.
He said the Convention, to which most nations subscribe, identifies the categories of cultural property that form part of the cultural heritage of each member state, thereby belonging to that State.
The minister added that by the provisions of the Article, they include cultural property created by the individual or collective genius of nationals of the State concerned.
“They also include cultural property which has been the subject of a freely agreed exchange or received as a gift or purchased legally with the consent of the competent authorities of the country of origin of such property,” he said..
Mohammed said the provisions, therefore, capture both Ife bronze head and Benin Bronze head, made several centuries ago and stolen from the people.
The minister added that the Heads of State and Government of the ECOWAS Region met in December 2018 in Abuja and adopted a Political Declaration on the return of cultural property to their countries of origin.