Epileptic electricity supply to Ogbomoso township, nonchalant attitude of IBEDC staffers to the obligation of their company in respect of consumers, alleged defrauding of the electricity users through crazy bills among other allegations forced an Ogbomoso organization, Ogbomoso Community Youth Forum under the leadership of Rev Peter Olaleye of New Estate Baptist Church, Ogbomoso, to mobilize electricity consumers for a showdown with IBEDC, Ogbomoso business hub, with a protest initially scheduled for Monday, 21 June, 2021. If the protest had gone on as planned, the ever busy Ibadan-Ilorin highway would have been blocked to show their grievances against IBEDC. The non-political, non-religious association had previously met with the leadership of IBEDC over the epileptic power to the zone, which had crippled the businesses of the people. However, there was little or no improvement in their services. The protest was however, put off because of the passionate appeal made to the youths by eminent personalities in the geo-political zone including traditional rulers and leadership of various security forces. The premise being that the protest might be hijacked by unscrupulous elements, who might wreck havoc on the town especially.
Instead of protest, a town hall meeting was organized, which held at Ogunlola Hall, Oja’gbo, Ogbomoso, on Monday, June 21, 2021. At the parley were electricity users both domestic and industrial like sawmillers, welders and blacksmiths, barbers, hoteliers among others, towns’ organizations including Ogbomoso Parapo. The IBEDC had representatives at the parley too, led by its regional manger and the manager, Ogbomoso business hub, Mr. Nelson Udeme.
At the occasion were the executive chairman of Ogbomoso North local government, Mr. Kabiru Akanji; security operatives, which included men of the Nigeria police from Ogbomoso zone led by Mr. Yemi Oyeniyi, the area commander, Owode Ogbomoso; NCDC; Vigilante and Amotekun corps. At the parley, people raised allegations against IBEDC, with its representatives equally putting up a defence, certain demands were subsequently made by the people which IBEDC must meet up with, for peace to reign. These conditions included the suspension of bills to customers for three months, after which customers without prepaid meters should be charged #1000 a month; IBEDC should ensure regular supply of electricity to the town at least twenty hours a day; prepaid meters paid for by customers over the years must be provided and henceforth, meters should be provided free. In addition, the youth organization demanded that henceforth, IBEDC should take responsibility for maintenance and repairs of its facilities, an obligation, which hitherto was forced down the throat of the customers. Also, IBEDC should stop its workers from harassing customers. Furthermore, the organization should tender public apologies to the people for the poor service in the town. Last but not the least, regular meeting should be organized, where matters of common interest would be discussed.
The parley at Ogbomoso shows that the Nigerian youths have woken up from their slumber and docility to take their destinies in their own hands, realizing that the elders cannot guarantee their development. Also, the parley was continuation of the Endsars revolt of 2020, the trend will definitely continue until youths’ agitation is addressed. Another implication of the parley is that government is losing its influence as provider of basic amenities like electricity for the people. Government having abdicated its role as provider of electricity to shylock individuals and organizations, the people have now decided to question the organization for surcharging them. Implicatively, service providers can no longer take people for a ride or exploit their customers without repercussion. Lastly, the parley proves right the saying that jaw-jaw is better than war-war. The forum enabled both sides to iron out their differences under an enabling environment. Had the youth organization refused to listen to voice of reason and continued with their protest, unscrupulous elements might have hijacked the protest leading to destruction of lives and properties.
Meanwhile, IBEDC needs to be appreciated for the maturity shown during the parley. However, the closure of the offices of the organization since Tuesday, June 22, 2021, a day after the parley shows that IBEDC as a business organization is not bendable and has taken itself as a lord of the manor. Since Tuesday, it has withdrawn its services from the town and thrown her into utter darkness and crippled economic activities. This further shows that it is not ready to improve its services. After all, customers are kings. Oyo state governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde is advised to call IBEDC to order to resume work in the town. Querying her over its non provision of its services by customers should not be taken as an assault but as a means of improving the services through which the organization gets its revenue.
Furthermore, Ogbomoso parley would serve as template for other towns in their dealings with service providers.
Adegbite can be reached via email@example.com
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