Ondo residents decry 10 yrs power outage

By Energy Worth

Residents of the Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State have decried the lack of power supply in many communities in the area.

The residents, who spoke during a South-South zonal interactive session organised by the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee on power in Benin, the Edo State capital, lamented they had not enjoyed electricity in the last 10 years.

A youth in the area, Mr Benjamin Obebe, stated that the situation had crippled economic activities and subjected the residents to hardship.

Obebe said, “You just need to help us out. In Ilaje, we have not seen light. It is affecting us economically. Our people are not lazy. But without electricity, how do you expect us to survive?

“We have eight-year-old children in Ilaje that have never heard people shouting for joy when electricity is restored. When you shout, they would think it is an incantation.”

He also called for the urgent intervention of the committee to restore power to the affected communities in the area.

Obebe noted, “So, we want this body (committee) to take it as a serious matter as our own case is not a matter of whether we have witnessed electricity for the past two or three years; we have not seen electricity for the past 10 years.

“We have been conditioned to darkness. Please, whatever it is going to cost this House (committee), your name is going to be written in gold if you take us out of this predicament.”

Also speaking, a representative of the Ondo State chapter of the Youths of Niger Delta, Mr. Agbejoye Adetoye, alleged that the local government area had been denied the benefits of civilisation, in spite of its status as an oil producing area.

He said, “Truly, Ilaje is the only local government that makes Ondo State part of the Niger Delta. But what we experience in that area is very pathetic. Is Ilaje not part of Nigeria?

“Ilaje has not seen light for 10 years. We have made all efforts to convene a meeting with stakeholders concerning this and carried out protests to ensure that power is restored.

“We have a lot of graduates roaming the streets not because they have no skills to be independent but because they depend on electricity to put their skills to use. Some of us depend on generators and you know what that means.”

Responding, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Benin Electricity Distribution Company, Mrs Funke Osibodu, attributed the problem faced by the area to transmission limitation.

Osibodu, who was represented by the Executive Director (Commercial) Mr Abu Ejoor, explained that factors such as lack of transmission facilities would have to be addressed before the company could distribute power to the affected communities.

She said, “On the Ilaje issue, there have been several meetings on the issue, even at the state level. I also at a time had to meet with the Council of Obas.

“For the problem in Ilaje, until the transmission limitation in that area is addressed, we cannot do anything. The transmission problem may be that there are no transmission facilities in that area. It could be that there are under-sized conductors.”

Earlier, the Chairman of the committee and member representing Atakunmosa East/Atakunmosa West and Ilesha/East constituency of Osun State, Mr Ajibola Famurewa, explained that the meeting was aimed at interfacing with electricity customers and protecting them from exploitation.

Famurewa lamented that in spite of its natural resources, the South-South could not boast of uninterrupted power supply.

He, however, noted that the committee was working on a bill to criminalise the estimated billing system used by many electricity distribution companies in the country.