The effort of Governor Rauf Aegbesola of Osun State to genuinely diversify the economy for productivity has attracted support from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to partner the state on renewable energy development.
The Corporation said the partnership was necessary to efficiently and productively explore the agricultural potentials of the state in order to drive the corporation’s diversification dream from oil and gas to renewable energy development in Nigeria.
Speaking at a meeting with the Governor Aregbesola in Osogbo, the state capital, the General Manager Joint Venture of Renewable Energy Division of NNPC, Mrs Clara Eminike who led the corporation’s team said NNPC was ready to collaborate with the state government on the mass production of cassava for industrial purpose of bio-fuel programme of the Corporation.
Eminike said the partnership is also aimed at linking the energy sector with the agriculture sector through the commercial production of bio-fuel from selected energy crops like cassava, sugar cane and oil palm.
She assured that the collaboration would help to create wealth, diversifying energy source and also create jobs for the teeming citizens of the state.
She said the visit of the NNPC team to the state has exposed them to the need to key into some major cash crops needed for the production of bio-fuel and industrial production for the benefit of the citizenry.
Eminike said the Corporation has found out that Osun is suitable for cassava production due to agro-climatic condition, hence the need to set up an ultra-modern cassava processing industry in the state.
According to her, “The bio-fuel programme was initiated by the management of NNPC in line with our policy of developing alternative sources of energy. Basically, the programme is aimed at linking the energy sector with the agriculture sector through the commercial production of bio-fuel from selected energy crops and the energy crops that we are presently looking at are cassava, sugar-cane and oil palm.
“And usually when we go into any location, we use the cash crops that we know that are predominant in that area; that is why we are looking at cassava for this state.
“We are about to look at other cash crops and some other things like sugar-cane and oil palm and basically what we want to do for this programme is to be able to create wealth, diversifying energy source and also create jobs.
“We know that oil and gas is not renewable and internationally a lot of people are diversifying from oil and gas into other sources of energy and it might interest you that the NNPC is not left out as we have diversified from being an oil and gas company to be an energy company and that is how this comes into play too”, she added.
Eminike noted that the programme is mainly private sector driven with NNPC, the state governments and co-investors who will take the majority equities and operate the venture as the state government provides land and the equities, hence the need for land requirement from the state government.
“We have found out that Osun state is suitable for cassava production due to agro-climatic condition. Basically the project will involve the development of 15,000 hectares of cassava plantation while other by-products will include animal feeds, yeast and carbondioxide” Eminike stressed.
In his remarks, the Governor of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola commended the management of the Corporation for displaying high sense of dexterity towards the diversification of the nation’s economy.
He described the partnership as a necessity to attract investors, create wealth and generate employment opportunities for the citizenry.
Aregbesola noted that the move would support the farmers, particularly the cassava outgrowers who hitherto faced challenges in marketing their agriculture produce. He assured the Corporation of his administration commitment to meet the targeted goal, saying Osun has over 30000 hectares cassava farms across the state.
Governor told the NNPC team that his administration had recorded success in various segments of the agriculture sector since inception of his administration.
He said his administration had partnered with IITA and successfully launched 5,000 hectares of land in the state in a bid to meet the need of best international practice on cassava seedling and modern hybrid cassava seeds.
“Your corporation is gradually becoming a modern resource-oriented, goal-getting and patriotic Nigerian company through this diversification
“We must thank the management of NNPC for their high sense of duty. And we commend the team. They are goal-getting, result-seeking and purposeful employees of the corporation”, he added.
Aregbesola urged the Corporation not to limit the scope of its diversification to bio-fuel alone but rather expand it to solar energy which he described as the most economical renewable source of energy.
“I personally appreciate what your corporation is doing and I commend your vision and foresight. That is how it should be, but don’t limit it to bio-fuel alone because there are several other sources of renewable energy.
”It is unfortunate that most people really don’t know that 60 percent of the requirement for solar panel is sand that is abundant in Nigeria.
“So, if sand is 60 percent of the material needed to make the panel for solar, please do not dismiss the solar energy because solar energy is the most economical renewable source of energy though it is expensive today because of the fact that the production of the panel is not yet liberalized”, he added.