The long running battle between Ogbomoso electricity consumers, being spearheaded by Ogbomoso Community Youth Forum (OCYF) and the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC), has culminated in a (temporary) amicable resolution following the intervention of some Ogbomoso elders under the aegis of Ogbomoso Joint Action Committee.
At a meeting held yesterday at Ogbomoso Recreation Club attended by the elders, led by Justice Adeniran Afolabi (retd.), president of Ogbomoso Parapo Worldwide; and Gen. Oladayo Popoola (retd.), Leader of Ogbomoso Community Foundation; members of OCYF led by its president, Rev’d. Peter Olaleye; as well as IBEDC officials, who included Captain Jacob Olamilekan Ajagbe, IBEDC Chief Asset & Revenue Protection Officer; Engr Christopher Lawal, IBEDC Ilorin Regional Manager; and Engr Udeme Nelson, business hub manager Ogbomoso.
The meeting attended by other stakeholders saw the IBEDC Chief Asset & Revenue Protection Officer (CARPO), a very high ranking officer of the organization, reiterating with equanimity how the organization is incapacitated to meet the conditions put before it by OCYF.
Recall that OCYF has in the past made an eight-point demand as a prelude to smooth operation by IBEDC in Ogbomoso, which included suspension of bills’ distribution to customers for three months; bill not exceeding N1, 000 per customer per month; assumption of responsibility for maintenance of electricity facilities and repairs of faults; and adherence to stable electricity supply for at least 20 hours a day.
Other demands are for IBEDC to tender public apology to the people of Ogbomoso over past atrocious services; supply of prepaid meters to all those who had paid and subsequent free distribution to other customers; stoppage of harassment of customers by IBEDC workers and regular meeting with stakeholders in the community.
The IBEDC Ogbomoso business hub had previously rejected most of the demands, and the meeting held yesterday, was a form of ratifying this by the IBEDC top hierarchy, with the tacit endorsement of the conveners of the meeting, whose only aim was to foster amicable resolution.
The presence of the elders actually offered a leeway of escape for IBEDC as the meeting ended up being presentations of positions by the two sides and there was no probing especially of the IBEDC positions as OCYF would have wanted.
A leader of OCYF, who wouldn’t want to be named summed it up; “We succumbed to accepting the submissions of the IBEDC. At least we had some grey areas we would have loved to iron out, but in the spirit of give and take and to defer to our fathers we mellowed because there are many unanswered questions in respect of their activities in the past. However, we hope they will begin to toe the path of sanity and honesty.
“At the same time we want to commend our Babas for their effort and the people of Ogbomoso for their support. I believe our efforts and people’s sacrifice will not be in vain.”
Engr Udeme said patronizingly, in reference to the issue of crazy bills, “If paying N1, 000 monthly is what will make our customers happy we will gladly do it but energy is bought, we pay for electricity provided for customers; we are in business and not a charitable organization.”
Continuing, he stated, “It is NERC (Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission) that is responsible for setting of tariffs, subject to approval by the National Assembly; IBEDC does not set prices. We only distribute.”
Udeme further said in respect of distribution of prepaid meters, “We are not the one that supplies meters (prepaid), and also meters can’t be distributed all at once to all customers, and that is why they are being distributed in phases, about 60million meters are needed throughout the country presently.”
Captain Ajagbe fondly called CARPO (the synonym of the position he holds in the organization, which tallies with the one used by Mafia groups in Italy and elsewhere to denote a Mafia boss or head) at this juncture took the stage, saying the problem of electricity supply in Nigeria is deep and very complex.
“Service wires connected for decades are still being used, they have not been changed; these wires when they were fixed our people only used small tvs but today, people use air conditioners, irons and these are the same old wires.
“The electricity problem is both traceable to government and consumers. Federal government has failed in its duty to develop electricity. All electricity used in Nigeria is equivalent to what is used to power mere airports in some overseas countries. A country like South Africa produces in excess of the electricity it needs but Nigeria is still hovering between 3000MWs and 5000MWs.
“And what is even transmitted is lesser. This takes me to the issue of 20 hours electricity per day being requested, it is not feasible, practically not feasible. There is inadequate electricity to go round everybody. There is also the issue of regulation from the Federal Government; this doesn’t also help the situation.
“I must emphasize that whatever revenue is generated by IBEDC through customers only about 13% of it reverts to the company. There are the generation and transmission companies, if they don’t give us electricity there is nothing we can do.”
Ajagbe, an indigene of Ogbomoso, similarly revisited the demand for N1, 000 charges per resident per month, positing, “Customers don’t dictate the price of services because all customers don’t use same amount of electricity. No businessman will allow that. We are also regulated. And based on that, there is no three months free supply.”
Many other defences were put up by the electricity company, geared towards explaining the rationale behind its actions. The dialogue session ended on a good note but there still remain unanswered questions. The demands of OCYF were treated but the discrepancies that led to the demands were not touched. So, “It is temporary resolution” as another leader of OCYF noted.
Meanwhile president of OCYF, Rev’d Peter Olaleye in a chat with ogbomosoinsightonline.com expressed mixed reactions.
Rev’d Olaleye admitted truly that OCYF was really incapacitated because of the respect they had for the elders who summoned the meeting, “We couldn’t engage in hot engagements with IBEDC officials on ground because of our fathers on ground whom we hold in high esteem..This is to say that we didn’t agree wholly with all their explanations, we could have confronted them with more facts.
“Notwithstanding, we are happy that the electricity company has demonstrated some commitments towards our demands.
“It has come to our notice that they cut down on electricity charges for last month. As an instance, there is place in Ogbomoso, where they claimed they used to pay N50, 000 monthly but last month their bill was about N7,000. There is someone else, a lawyer, whose office used to pay a monthly bill of N7,000 but received a bill of about N3,500 last time.
We have received several phone calls testifying to this.
“Also, there have been few places where IBEDC has taken up the responsibility of replacing broken electric poles and service wires, within the last one week. Electricity supply has similarly improved in the city. So, we believe something positive has been achieved.
“We commend IBEDC for these positive changes and we hope they will continue in this positive direction. However, we will not relent on our part, we will give them close monitoring so they will not derail. We will hold them accountable so there can be harmony.”