THE Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) is on the verge of restoring grid electricity to Ekiti East and Aiyekire (formerly Gbonyin) Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Ekiti State after eight years.
Communities in the two neighbouring LGAs, including Araromi-Ugbesi, Ahan, Omuo-Oke, Araromi-Oba, Ikun-Araromi, Ilasa, Eda-Ile, Omuo, and Isinbode, have been in total darkness since 2014.
Senator who represented Ekiti South in the Eighth and Ninth Senate, Biodun Olujimi and Olufemi Bamisile, representing Emure/Gbonyin/Ekiti East in the House of Representatives, are some prominent citizens from the LGAs.
In May 2022, The ICIR reported how the area had been in a total blackout despite efforts by the two lawmakers (Olujimi and Bamisile) to ensure the LGAs returned to grid electricity.
The outage has crippled socio-economic activities, pushed many youths out of the area and slowed growth and development.
Many residents with the means use solar power, but most solar power devices cannot service some electrical appliances.
The ICIR reporter visited the LGAs recently and noted that the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) has restored power to the high-tension cable to connect homes and offices.
But there is much work to be done on transformers and several wires taking the light into homes as many dangled in places where they are kept after falling off from electricity poles.
Besides, the Olomuo of Omuo Kingdom, Oba Adejuwon Omonigbehin (Okinbaloye II), told the reporter in his palace on Saturday, August 26, that the BEDC was asking for the payment of N95 million allegedly owed by his community.
He said the demand for the payment was one of the reasons the restoration could be delayed.
“BEDC has not added any value to electricity in Omuo, but you see them bringing outrageous bills. For the past eight years, there has been no electricity in Omuo, and they continued to bill us. As the last count, they said we owed N95 million. This is the problem. BEDC has that penchant for billing for the light they didn’t supply.
“No sane person can pay that kind of money. We didn’t use any light, and they are billing us. We recollect that some consumers still receive bills at the end of the month even when there has been no light for the past eight years in Omuo. That is the situation.”
He noted that discussions were ongoing to resolve the issue.
He also confirmed there was light on the high-tension wire.
He said work needed to be done on transformers because thieves had stolen some while others had been damaged.
“There is a need to look at the transformers and do the necessary things to prevent any danger to the people,” he stated.
The ICIR contacted BEDC spokesperson Kayode Brown over the allegation that the company issued bills without supplying light. He stated that the allegation was not true.
“Please get a copy of the bill they got when there was no light. Every bill is dated, and we know when their light was severed. That will assist you in making an informed decision,” he said.
The reporter spoke with many residents in the two LGAs who said BEDC had issued the bills before stopping the power supply to the LGAs.
According to them, the company supplied them with a very low voltage that could not power anything for several years and issued bills for those years, which they vowed not to pay.
In the earlier report, Brown confirmed the residents’ claim in his conversation with The ICIR.
He had said, “There was nothing like AEDC or BEDC when the issue occurred. What we had then was PHCN (Power Holding Company of Nigeria). The only thing was that we were feeding them from the Okenne Transmission Station. They happened to be at the end of that particular feeder. Anytime there was a problem with the feeder, they opened them (they wouldn’t have light).
“The second thing is that it was usually very low before the power got to them. They claimed that it was not useful to them, so they refused to pay. We were now incurring too much debt at the Okenne Transmission Station. At that point, we had to cut off. We said there was no need to give them what was not useful to them. We had to disconnect.”
Brown’s claims are the reasons the LGAs have been without a power supply for eight years.
Speaking with The ICIR in the earlier report, the Commissioner for Infrastructure and Utilities in Ekiti State during the administration of former Governor Kayode Fayemi, Bolaji Aluko, a professor, averred with the LGAs’ position on low power voltage.
He explained that BEDC, which distributes electricity in Ondo, Delta, Edo, and Ekiti State, got nine per cent of the power sent to the national grid.
According to Aluko, who hails from Aiyekire, one of the affected LGAs, the allocation was not bad because 11 discos shared the power generated in the country.
“Of that nine per cent, only 22 per cent is given to Ondo and Ekiti states, while Edo and Delta states share the remaining 78 per cent. Of the 22 per cent sent to Ondo and Ekiti States, only 10 per cent comes to Ekiti State.”
He explained that Ekiti State was not on the national grid because the state did not have any 330 KV line, adding that all the 133 KV lines in the state came from Ondo.
Marcus bears the light, and he beams it everywhere. He's a good governance and decent society advocate. He's the ICIR Reporter of the Year 2022. Contact him via email @ firstname.lastname@example.org.