• Tony Igele

Electricity Crisis In Edo State

All through the yuletide season, most electricity consumers in Benin City and indeed, Edo State suffered lack of electricity or very poor supply like never before. The complain is everywhere. From Evbuotubu to New Benin, Airport Road to Oluku, Siluko Road to Ikpoba Hill, even all new areas of GRA, the story is the same-NO LIGHT!

In other cities, towns and villages across Edo State, the problem appears essentially the same. Many communities across the state receive poor supply where they receive it at all. Some communities have not seen electricity in two-five months even for the flimsiest of reasons from the distribution company.

Sadly, the Benin Electricity Distribution Company, like other DISCOs is sounding helpless and unprepared to improve the distribution of electricity. Very often they hide under the complain that electricity generated and allotted to them for distribution not enough to go round all consumers 24/7. But more worrisome is the obvious fact that even the megawatts allotted BEDC is being inequitably distributed. It is almost now going to the highest bidder or the strongest in the society. It does seem as if some companies and institutions that are willing to pay some huge sums of money to BEDC officially or unofficially or military barracks and formations are given almost 24 hours supply while entire communities or streets are left to grope in darkness.

Most annoying is the wickedness with which electricity is supplied to some residents in Benin City and environs. It is supplied for 3-5 minutes and taken for the rest of the day. Sometimes half current that would not carry any home electrical appliances. Some get for only 30 minutes and that is all for the day. In some few other areas, there is some load shedding arrangement whereby some parts of Benin get 3-hourly supply every day. But these relatively lucky set of consumers are just few. It is just to give an impression that BEDC is in business in Benin.

The resultant effect is that residents are made to spend their hard earned incomes on purchase of electricity generators and exorbitant petrol or diesel to power them. This, situation is killing to most families, businesses and even drives many residents crazy and you want to ask: What is happening in Nigeria? Why is electricity generation and distribution such a difficult problem to surmount? Year in, year out, billions of dollars have been sunk by previous administration to address the problem, and all such investments seems to have gone down the drain because you just cannot reconcile the huge investments with the very poor supply.

Corruption has been blamed for the problem, yet no single individual or institution have been arrested, prosecuted, jailed or the loot for such huge investments recovered. Where is the result of the huge investments?

It does seems also that it was a very costly mistake to have privatized the generation and distribution of electricity in the country. Private companies that bought over electricity distribution otherwise called DISCOs have only come to compound the problem and are just profit minded and are not in any way interested in serving the public in a responsible way aside profit maximization..

The federal government must re-visit the privatization of electricity in Nigeria. The federal government led by Muhammadu Buhari has a duty to probe the privatization of electricity and ensure that all those involved in sharp practices are brought to book. Government should revoke the licenses of those operating distribution companies as most of the current leaders are said to be relatives and girl friends of erstwhile PDP leaders. It also means that they have an ulterior political intention to make sure that efforts of the present administration to improve electricity supply do not work, so that the PDP can have an excuse to deceive the people again to come to power in 2019. The APC-led federal government must not allow these mischievous Nigerians carry on the way they are going. Electricity supply in the days of NEPA and PHCN was definitely better than what these so-called DISCOs are foisting on the people today.

All tiers of government must not rest until electricity is supplied to Nigerians at affordable costs. There is no justification why Japan and China would continue to flood our markets with generators just because we can’t solve this problem for ourselves. Now that the Federal Government is interested in Nigerians consuming made in Nigerian goods, methinks the start point is made in Nigeria electricity, not made in Japan or made in China! We need locally generated electricity distributed 24/7 to all residents. This is a non-negotiable demand from Nigerians to all tiers of government in this new year, 2017.

I am glad, that in Edo, the State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, during his electioneering campaigns promised to add 450 megawatts of electricity to the national grid by 2017 to boost electricity supply in the state. He made the promise while addressing the Igbo Community Union in Benin during the campaigns and said the 450mw would be generated from the ongoing Azura Power Plant which the APC administration attracted to the state. When completed, the power plant would not only boost business in the state, but increase the number of small and medium enterprises.

In the exact words of Mr. Godwin Obaseki: “We have moved away from the era of politics of sharing to the era of politics of development. Oil money is no longer available for sharing and so there is a need to elect a leader capable of marshaling ways for development aside oil money. When we invest to boost agriculture, businesses in the state will also be boosted with an additional 450mw of electricity with the completion of Azura Power Plant,”

It is obvious that with constant supply of electricity more businesses would lead to employment which would create wealth and boost tax collection. Mr. Obaseki plans to create a minimum of 200,000 jobs and boost agricultural production in the state. This can only be possible with regular supply of electricity.

I will strongly advise Mr. Obaseki to follow through with his commitment to make 450mw of electricity available to the national grid this year, so that residents of Benin City and indeed Edo State, can have regular electricity supply. Mr. Obaseki should make electricity supply across the length and breath of the state his first priority towards developing the state. I strongly believe that this is what would trigger development and job creation as he has already reasoned.

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