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Legal hurdles, hefty settlements, bad politics: Inside Aba Geometric power’s long journey to fruition



Legal hurdles, hefty settlements, bad politics: Inside Aba Geometric power's long journey to fruition

The 188 Megawatts capacity Aba independent Integrated Power plant, built by Geometric Power Ltd , has been inaugurated by the Vice President, Sen. Kashim Shetima.

Peter Okore, who was at the ceremony for BusinessHallmark said the coming on-stream of the Aba Geometric Independent Integrated Power plant, located in the Osisioma Industrial Layout of Aba, Abia State, last week, is seen, not only as a dream come true, but as a clear signal to local and international investors that Aba is again open for business. His report:

The firm behind the power project

Geometric Power Limited is an indigenous construction firm founded by Professor Bartholomew Nnaji.

Nnaji is a professor of Mechanical and Industrial engineering. He is the chairman, Chief Executive Officer of Geometric Power Limited. Well as known globally as a respected academic engineer in the United States, Nnaji has served as Nigeria’s Minister of Science and Technology and later Minister of Power in the federal executive council.

Though the ultimate goal of Geometric Power Group on the IPP is to provide 24- hour steady power supply in its service area, covering nine (9) out of the 17 LGs of Abia state, Nnaji said that supply of full light to the entire area of coverage would not be automatic.

He has made it clear since the commissioning that consumers would get to enjoying uninterrupted electricity in due course, after the installation of the second of the four turbines.

According to him, the turbines would be inaugurated in phases, each coming after monitoring the successful performance of the previous one. The story of Geometric power Ltd with this project is that of fate, perseverance, resilience and a lesson in patriotism and desire for nation-building.

The pre-qualification of Nnaji to handle the larger Aba Integrated Power plant project was manifested after he successfully built a -22 megawatt Emergency Plant in 2001 for the supply of electricity to the State House, Abuja; the NNPC headquarters, the Abuja Business District, and other places’

Witness to a dream come true

Little wonder the inaugural ceremony witnessed a cream of International experts, professionals, students, titans of industry, entrepreneurs, stakeholders in the Oil and Gas sectors as well as personalities in Nigeria, including members of Federal and state executive councils, the Labour party Presidential candidate in the 2023 election, Mr Peter Obi, Managing Director of AfreximBank, Professor Okey Oramah, prominent traditional rulers from the South-east, including the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Charles Nnaemeka Achebe (who was the former Chairman of Diamond Bank at the time and who played a significant role in the resolution of the ownership tussle of the ring fence tussle.); traditional rulers from Abia, including Chairman of Abia traditional Rulers Council, Eze Linus Nto Mba; serving and past state governors or their representatives, including Rojas Okorocha, the Religious, Presisent of Afrexim bank, State and national assembly members from the South-East, representatives from various Chambers of Commerce, Industries , Mines an Agriculture, LGA Mayors, Mrs Bianca Ojukwu, wife of late Biafran leader Odimegwu Ojukwu,dancing groups, among others.

The Geometric power project could today be considered as a celebrated infrastructure in Nigeria after the coming of the Global System of Mobile (GSM) telephone, under former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

With the total cost of the project put at $800 Million, Geometric power plant is said to be the biggest independent integrated power plant investment in South- East geo-political zone of Nigeria .

The project has a 27-kilometre natural gas pipeline from Owaza in Ukwa- west LGA to the Osisioma Industrial Layout in Aba. It has installed 150,000 kilometres of cables and installed four new power substations with titular poles, about 10 meters deep, mounted in Aba and the environs. As distinct from other power installations, the quality equipments in Geometric power installations translates that, in the unlikely event of a natural disaster, like earthquake in Aba or the environs, Aba Power , the Geometric Group will still be able to supply electricity to its numerous customers.

An eye-witness at the commissioning ceremony declared that the Geometric Plant marks a new dawn in the country, not just in Aba or Abia State. Indeed , Economy watchers put it thus: ”Geomatric Plant has given Abia a negotiation tool with which to drive the Abia economy”.

They also prospect that the integrated power project promises to resolve the power crisis in Abia state as well as contributes greatly to national development.


Moreover, residents in some parts of Aba metropolis are said to be celebrating days of un-interrupted power since the switching –on of one of the 4 turbans of the 141 megawatts Aba Integrated Power plant at Osisioma, Abia State , by the Vice president, senator Kashim Shettima, Monday, 26th February, 2024, courtesy of Geometric Power Ltd. This is also as personnel of geometric Power Ltd, have embarked on, what they describe as “massive metering” of the areas covered by the plant. Some of the staff, seen on site, were also appealing to consumers of the Geometric services, to make sure they pay their bills promptly to justify the uninterrupted light in the areas.

The appeal became timely because Aba is the heartbeat of industrialization in sub Saharan Africa. Ever since the episode dawn in Aba, there have been jubilations and signs of confidence in governance, amongst residents, inhabitants, prospective businessmen and women, that Aba will soon return to her pre-war- lost glory of being the “Japan of Africa”. As one jubilant resident reacted, “it looks like Governor Otti is looking at birthing a mini-China in the South-East”

Prospects of IPP

Of course, there are clear indications that investors, including those companies that relocated from Aba as a result of irregular power supply, are flooding to Aba again. One of such companies, whose country representatives have given intention to invest in Aba, is Maxxis tyres plant.

Taiwan’s Maxxi Tyres is a brand of Cheng Shin Rubber Industry company in Taiwan specialized in production of Motor Tyres, Car tyres, Light Truck tires ATVS Trailer tyres and more. Maxis Tyres plans to establish a full-scale tyre production plant in Aba, following stable power restored by the Aba Geometric power plant. A reliable source asserts that the country representative of Maxxis Tyres is inspecting sites for the location of the company in any of the LGA’s in Aba metropolis.

There are presently three gas turbans supplying gas, sourced from Owaza Gas plant in Ukwa Local Government Area of the state to the 141 MW, with each firing 47 megawatts of electricity. A fourth turban is additionally provided to give the projected expandable 188 megawatts of electricity capacity to Aba and environs, when the plant commences full production.

According to the spokesman of the Geometric Power Ltd , Mr. Chijioke Ogbodo, while speaking during a live Radio programme, monitored in Umuahia, ”we are following laid down guidelines in the distribution of electricity to consumers. All the areas cannot get light at same time.

“The nine LGA’s within Aba Enyimba city, (for which the 141 MW and expandable 188 MW has been provided for), require between 96 MW and 100 MW. When the plant goes into full operation, the excess power generated from here will either be supplied to nearby LGA’s (outside the fenced area for Geometric power Lts, or sent to the National grid.”

Ogbodo also disclosed that Abia state Government has three percent Equity shares participation in the Geometric Power project. Records show that before now, the EEDC provided Aba metropolis with 25 megawatts of electricity, which was said to be epileptic and insufficient. With the firing on ONE Turban (out of 4) since commissioning, Aba is getting 47MW of electricity.

Concept of IPP and journey so far

Going back to memory lanes, the idea to establish the Aba Integrated power project was muted to Nnaji after late World Bank President, James Wolfensohn and then Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala ( now Director-General, World Trade Centre, WTC), New York, visited Aba on March 17, 2004 to see the commercial hub of former Eastern Region of Nigeria.

It will be recalled that Okonjo-Iweala had in 2004 invited Wolfensohn to Aba to witness, first hand , the huge economic and technological potentials of the city.

On that day, the trio of Wolfenshn, Okonjo-Iweala and Nnaji held a town hall meeting with Aba business community. The meeting was said to have opened the eyes of the World Bank boss to the plethora of small, medium and large scale enterprises that could blossom to boundless limits if only constant power supply was made available. Moreover, Aba is home to all forms of fabrications, indigenous manufacturing, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

The take-away from that meeting was the resolve that the greatest challenge facing both large-scale and medium and small-scale Enterprises in Aba was epileptic power supply.

Following the resolve, both Wolfensohn and Okonjo-Iweala, after the townhall meeting, appealed to Nnaji to assist with a power plant dedicated to Aba, following his exploits in Abuja.

As stated earlier, Nnaji, not only bought the idea to build a- 50Megawatt power plant in Aba, as requested by World bank President and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, but assured them that he will not only build a bigger 141 Megawatts plant but make it expandable to 188Megawatts.


This was how the idea to establish the multi-Million Dollar Aba Integrated power project (IPP) in Aba was conceived. This is also reason why, at the commissioning ceremony, Nnaji described the project as “a child of necessity”, given that the autonomous power project was conceived at a period when Nigeria’s power supply -woes were suffocating the manufacturing sector; with factories shutting down and investments collapsing.

The hurdles to realize a dream

Indeed, the execution of the IPP, Aba waded through many muddy waters. It moved from one obstacle to the other, including financing problems, ownership of oilfield, etc. As governor Alex Otti , who was one of the pillars behind this project, both in his previous work-life as a banker and currently as the Governor of Abia State succinctly put it, “A combination of factors contributed to the delay of this project for nine years”.

Such factors included finance, legal tussles and ownership of the Owaza oilfield, from where the dedicated pipeline would feed the plant with uninterrupted natural gas flow, etc.

Prof Nnaji spoke his mind when he declared in his address that he was inspired and encouraged to embark upon this project by Ikonjo-Iweala and the late President of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn.

The Aba Geometric power plant is licensed to generate and transmit power and Prof. Nnaji persevered for 20 years to make sure that the power plant became a reality.

This was why he described the event of the day as “a happy one for him, having concluded a journey that started 20 years ago”.

The Aba ring-fenced area covering nine Local Governments out of the 17 Abia LGs was ceded to Geometric Power in its memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Federal Government in 2004. Same year, former governor of the state, Sen. Orji Uzor Kalu , with enthusiasm, issued the Certificate of Ownership on the land.

Surprisingly, the ceding of the Aba ring-fenced area comprising Aba North, Aba South, Obingwa, Osisioma, Isiala Ngwa North, Isiala Ngwa in South, Ugwunagbo, Ukwa East and Ukwa -West later became a source of protracted dispute and legal tussle between Geometric Power Ltd and the EEDC.

Competent sources say the parent company of EEDC, Interstate Electrics, promoted by a businessman, Chief Emeka Offor, apparently saw the Aba Ring-fence as a prized asset and would not let go even when it was obvious that the Aba Ring-fenced area was included for EEDC by mistake.

The ownership tussle that ensued over the Aba Ring-fence led to a legal battle between Geometric Power Ltd and Enugu Electricity Company, EEDC, that lasted for nine years. It was eventually settled out of court through the interventions of various stakeholders. But at the end of it all Geometric Power came out bruised.

Its commencement of commercial operations was made possible through the cooperation of people, like former governor, Senator Theodore Orji, immediate past governor, Okezie Ikpeazu who did not revoke the land as well as incumbent governor Dr. Alex Otti, who saw it all.

The hiccups lasted long and delayed actions on the project for 10 years. At the end, Geometric Power Ltd was also made to pay $26 million to Interstate Electrics as settlement.

According to sources, “this pay-off to Interstate Electrics was for the cost of 60 percent interest in the Aba Ring-fenced, five years of IRR (initialism of internal rate of return), and premium on 60 percent value of the Aba Ring-fenced area.”

The settlement fund was provided by the AfreximBank, with headquarters in Cairo, Egypt. The critical role played by the bank to free Geometric from the entanglement of EEDC was also amply recognized at the commissioning ceremony of Geometric Power plant. The Managing Director of AfreximBank, Professor Okey Oramah, was highly commended by Vice President Sen. Shettima, who also praised Governor Otti and Prof Nnaji for facilitating the intervention of his bank to end the tussle between Geometric and EEDC.

Apart from the payment of settlement money to Interstate Electrics, Geometric also lost a huge sum of revenue to the dispute. While it was purchasing power from the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) to provide electricity to Aba it was losing revenue to EEDC. According to Geometric, the EEDC was still collecting revenue from Aba electric consumers while the case lasted; to the disadvantage of Geometric..


The End Result/Challenges

The Federal Government has already identified the Aba IPP as a critical component in the nation’s quest to attain stable power supply and a way of growing the nation’s economy through diversification.

The Vice President, who represented President Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the epoch-making event , described the Geometric plant as “a game changing project”. He said Mr. President is mightily proud of both the project and its founder, Prof Nnaji. He implored the Aba businessmen and women to make the best use of the Geometric power to increase their productivities in the Nigerian economy.

Shettima paid tribute to Nnaji’s resilience in scaling every hurdle placed on his way in the process of building the power plant, saying that it “bears testimony to the power of dreams; where there is a will, there’s a way”.

Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu said that Geometric Power Group has become “a national asset” given the feat it has achieved and the role it is going to play in resolving Nigeria lingering power problems within his tenure. Though Geometric is serving only the Aba Ring-fenced area, when it eventually goes full- blast to 188 Megawatts of power generation, it would feed the national grid with the excess power as Aba would not immediately consume all of 141MW.

His words:” To the Aba and energy consumers, I appeal to you to safeguard power structures in your localities. There should no more be vandalization of electricity equipments. Make sure you pay your electricity Bills. The federal government will watch closely the performance of Geometric power Ltd. If it succeeds, , we will use it as model to improve electricity supply in Nigeria.”

Governor Otti buttressed the seemingly hard story of Geometric Power plant in his address at the commissioning ceremony, titled: “The Power to dream’’. He hinted that the Vice President’s presence points to the great significance of today’s event and speaks to the commitment of the Federal Government to support private sector investors in the search for a robust model for the electricity value- chain in the country.

”The commitment of the Federal Government to the actualization of what started- off as a pipe dream 20 years ago,the patience of the investors and tells a very exciting story of what we can achieve as Nigerians when we mobilise ourselves and resources to take on any task,” he said.

“As a leader in the private sector many years ago, and now as the Governor of the State, I consider the Geometric Integrated Power Project to be very special and dear to my heart because of the immense potential it holds for the economic and social rejuvenation of Aba as a preferred destination for enterprise growth, family life and leisure.

“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.

” 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.

” Whatever your line of business, manufacturing, agro-processing, metal fabrication, woodworks, ICT, fashion, services, or retail, whatever be it, Aba is waiting to embrace you warmly.

“The onus is now on us to pay our electricity bills as and when due. There must be no attempt to sabotage the revenue flow to the company because projects like this require steady cash flow for effective operations — including payment for gas supplies.

“My promise is that events like this will now become more regular in the light of our on-going discussions with several local and international investors — so we are just getting started. In no distant time, Umuahia and environs will hear from us as we are working on a solution for them”.

There were also some Goodwill Messages at the occasion. In her message, the WTC Director-general, Dr. Ngozi Okkonjo-Iweala urged that the services of Geometric power Ltd should spread to all the towns and communities in Abia state. She suggested that the efforts of CEO of Geometric Ltd to be replicated throughout Nigeria to ensure steady growth of the economy as well as the federal and state governments to encourage private-sector investments.

According to her, “The journey to steady power supply has started in Aba. Let it go round.”.


The Labour Party Presidential candidate in the 2023 presidential election, Mr. Obi noted that the commissioning of Geometric power plant is a landmark, one that hopes to catalyze development in the commercial city of Aba and its environs.

His words: “I followed this project from the incubation stage about 20 years ago, as the then Chairman of one of the biggest commercial banks in Nigeria. I have followed its trajectory and I am delighted that, today, this huge vision, the Aba IPP has come to fruition.

“I can describe the project as a miracle, which happened due to the unwavering commitment of my very dear elder brother, the Former Minister of Power, Prof Barth Nnaji, and his team, whose resilience and drive for success pushed the project to success.

“Power remains a critical tool of development, as it plays a very vital role in the growth of the Small and Medium Scale Enterprise sector which is the engine of growth in any nation.

“Given the recent bold steps that Governor Otti has taken to re-energize Aba’s immense potential, the Geometric power plant will add impetus by providing much-needed power to Aba, our journey to a new Nation of consumption to the desirable state of production, is possible”.

All-in-all, Geometric power plant has come to make Aba, indeed, Abia proud. The project promises to bring all artisans, fabricators and all back on track for real business, Sooner or later Abia, nee Nigeria, will find solution to the national power problem and quest for diversification of the nation’s economy would be possible.

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