24 September 2013, Ibadan — To some Ibadan residents who live at Muslim, Odinjo, Alade Masfala, Adesola in Oluyole and Ona Ara local government areas of Ibadan, it has been a harrowing experience for the past eight years living without power supply.
With the exception of a negligible few who can afford generating sets, a larger percentage of people living in the areas have been coping with utter darkness. Their businesses have collapsed with artisans who need electricity for their work moving in droves to other places within the metropolis. Landlords in the area who rely on rents for survival now regret why they spent huge sums of money on buildings that would not yield money for them in return.
Owing to the endless power outage, which some residents said had been the case for 11 years, tenants now avoid getting accommodation in the areas.
Pushed to the wall, angry youths in the areas capitalised on the fuel subsidy crisis of January 2012 to set the substation of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, in the area ablaze. About eight vehicles, several equipment, cables were stolen by the rampaging youths who felt the PHCN office there was of no use to them.
According to some elders in the areas, successive government officials had made several unfulfilled promises to end the nightmare, but to this day, the reign of darkness still continues.
One of the leaders, Mr. Adegbite Yisau, who said the problem has been on for many years, added that it started since the tenure of the late Lamidi Adesina.
Also, a landlord in the area, Mogaji Fatai Adebayo and Mr. Salau Suberu, said the electricity problem has made it difficult to attract tenants to their houses.
When asked why there has been perpetual darkness in the area, Mr. Tokunbo Peters, Principal Manager, Public Affairs, PHCN, said it was an exaggeration that there had not been electricity supply for the past eight years. He, however, admitted that the problem could have been caused by a local fault.
He said: “That is grossly exaggerated. If there is power cut for one hour, people would say they have not had light for seven hours. It is true we had a fault and it lasted few months. When we were about completing it, the substation was razed.
“We have been able to put two transformers which cost N80million each in place. He said: “We still need about N80m to complete the project. This project is unlikely to be completed by the end of the year because we are yet to receive the remaining fund and we are also yet to place order for the material needed from abroad. Each of the two transformers installed cost N40m and the control room building has cost N15m so far and we still need a lot of things to put in place several other equipment before it will be functional. Indoor breaker, control room panel and underground cable are some of the things we still need to install.”
So, it was a huge relief when the Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory, Oloye Jumoke Akinjide visited them recently and said efforts were in top gear to find lasting solution to the problem. According to her, she had contacted the Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, for the repair of the power distribution station that was destroyed. She noted that power projects are capital-intensive and destruction of a power station amounted to waste of public fund advising residents in the areas to always guard all government facilities jealously.
“What happened was an unfortunate incident and there are many lessons to be learnt from it. Because of the action of a few people, majority are suffering. Citizen responsibility is important among us because we need to protect government facility and critical infrastructure in our society. We should not allow criminal element in our midst to destroy the facility that serve us. I feel sorry for the good people of Ibadan who have been suffering for more than one year because of the destruction of the PHCN facilities.
“I have made representation to my colleague in the power sector to help us to restore power in this area and I am happy that the work is almost completed. So far, we have spent over N200m that was not budgeted for. As you know, the power sector is capital intensive. There are many power projects going on all over the country and this is one of them. This is so to increase power supply in Nigeria. I have been assured by the Power Minister that soon, this station will commence operation,” she said.
With the promise and seeing that the work is almost completed, hundreds of people who came to receive the minister went wild in jubilation thanking her for her efforts so far.