Living next door to darkness

Silent beneficiaries of power outage... Generator repairers at work PHOTO: PAUL ADUNWOKE

Silent beneficiaries of power outage… Generator repairers at work PHOTO: PAUL ADUNWOKE

• Communities Decry 15 Years Of Power Outage

Residents of Magboro, Ibafo and Mowe in Obafemi Owode Local Council of Ogun State are not happy. Reason: they have been without electricity for the past 15 years!

When The Guardian visited the area, recently, the people bemoaned neglect by the state government, saying after self-effort in installation of electricity poles, transformers and cables, the authorities ought to step in and complement their endeavours.

At the shed of generator repairer, Paul Oluwashola, the reporter saw a bitter pointer to what the people are passing through. The technician was flanked by generators waiting for a touch of his skillful hands. The machines, having toiled endlessly to supply power to homes, had finally packed up.

Cashing in on opportunity provided by the outage, Oluwashola described business as very good, saying he rakes in about N15,000 everyday. “I have many customers,” he stressed, adding, “many of them eventually return home without being attended to. To meet their demands, I decided to bring on young boys who are learning the trade,” he said.

A sawmill factory worker, Ogunbiyi Lukman, is one of the many residents who rely solely on generators. “My generator is always breaking down, and it costs precious money to fix it. Everyday, I buy diesel at the cost of N140 per litre. At the end of the day, I am left with little or no profit at all. If the government provides us with electricity, it will go a long way to improve our business and living standards,” he said.

Relaying the frustrations of the people, the secretary of Magboro Community Development Committee, Pastor Michael Shola, said: “Many landlords have relocated from this community and abandoned their houses. We believe that when electricity is available, more people would come here and build houses. We have welders but many of them cannot afford heavy-duty generating sets to run their businesses. We have barbers and launderers but because of lack of electricity, many of them have become commercial motorcyclists in order to survive.”

While the Federal Government’s Nigerian National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) initiative in the state might have benefited the people, upon completion, the contractor in charge, Dodson Ifeanyiaka, said progress is being hampered by the activities of miscreants who vandalise the equipment.

“The miscreants have vandalised cables worth over N6m. Until this problem is solved, the project cannot be completed. But for the vandalisation, we would have done the commissioning by now. The issue has dragged us back to square one. The people should be patient and encourage us by protecting the facilities because at the end, it is the residents that would benefit from it. We are working day and night to ensure that the project is completed soon.”

The people, however, disagreed with Ifeanyiaka on the role played by vandals, alleging that the project failed to fly because fake electricity materials were used. According to Shola, “When Abuja and Ibadan Electricity Distribution Companies visited the project, many fake materials were discovered.”

To this, Ifeanyiaka responded: “It is not true. The attitude of the people is not encouraging; they sabotage the project. What do they mean by fake materials? We imported all our materials from India and Turkey.”

The people’s expectation of government’s intervention appears shaky, if the words of Ogun State Commissioner for Information, Dayo Adeleye, are to be believed. According to him, responsibility for the provision of electricity lies not with the state government but with the Electricity Distribution, and Generation Companies.

He said: “I am not in charge of electricity. Ogun State does not provide electricity. Rather, it provides infrastructure and enabling environments for people to thrive. I am not denying that the communities are in Ogun State but most of the people who live in the area built houses illegally without seeking the approval of Ogun government.

“Now, they are asking the government to build roads and provide electricity for them. Most of the people who live in the area work in Lagos and pay their revenues and taxes to the Lagos State government. Residents should build houses in areas designated by Ogun State government, so that the government can provide infrastructure for them.”

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