Protesters shut down Ikeja Disco over outages, sacked workers
Ikeja, the capital of Lagos State was on a lockdown for several hours yesterday when a group of protesters under the aegis of the Citizen Access to Electricity Initiative (CAEI), in conjunction with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), took to the streets to protest against the abysmal service delivery of the electricity company in the state.
Members of the group, who began the procession from Ikeja under-bridge and marched through Obafemi Awolowo Street, blocked the entrance into the Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company (IKEDC) office at Alausa secretariat , while calling on the company to live up to its responsibility as a private entity by providing services to the satisfaction of its numerous customers. They also shut the use of adjoining roads.
The protesters had their various messages printed on the bright red apron they all wore, which included: “Fashola, leave power sector,” “Sai Baba, stop privatisation of power,” “We are tired of darkness,” among others.
Many of them carried along several objects to illustrate the absence of electricity, including torchlights, candles and lanterns, blackened with soot. They chanted several solidarity songs, pitching the IKEDC as an anti-mass establishment and asking the Federal Government to do the needful in the power sector in order to save Nigerians from perennial power hitches.
The IKEDC also didn’t leave anything to chance as it mobilised stern-looking anti-riot policemen to deny the protesters access into the premises. The protesters noted that the distribution company had failed to provide electricity, while at the same time increasing tariff and issuing what they termed ‘crazy’ estimated billing to its customers.
“Since IKEDC has decided to leave Lagos in darkness, we have also decided to paint the state red with out protest. Nigerians have spoken. We will occupy this place until change is achieved. Nigerians are paying for power without seeing it. We will not take it,” said Olusegun Akintunde, one of the protesters.
The Secretary of CAEI, Joseph Emmanuel, accused the electricity company of indiscriminately sacking over 400 workers without any reason. “The company sacked its best workers and hired casual workers instead. By sacking one worker, you have also sacked about 20 people who are dependent on that one person. We will continue to occupy this place until all those who have been sacked have been duly reinstated.”
The protesters said one of the reasons some workers were sacked was because they could not meet up with the financial targets the company gave them. They said workers were forced to issue dubious tariff to consumers just to be able to meet up with targets.
Head, Corporate Communications, Ikeja Electricity Distribution Plc, Felix Ofulue, told The Guardian the, “Labour union has commenced picketing of our facilities irrespective of the fact that Ikeja Electric has filed a suit including a motion for Interlocutory Injunction restraining them from picketing our facilities,”
He further explained that “Ikeja Electric has filed a suit including a motion for Interlocutory Injunction restraining the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC), Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), their agents, officers, privies, representatives or otherwise, whether acting of their own accords or in concert with other bodies, persons or unions, from disrupting or shutting down the operations of the company or barricading the entry and exit points of her Corporate Headquarters located at Obafemi Awolowo Way, Alausa, Ikeja, or any other premises or location where the company carries out commercial and (or) technical operations.
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