02 August 2014, Benin – Electricity consumers in Edo State have criticised the management of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company led by Mrs. Funke Osibodu for what some of them called “mismanagement.”
Some residents of the state wrote to Power Talkback, expressing their displeasure with the running and management of the company. In their letters, the residents accused BEDC management of only being interested in collecting electricity tariff from consumers while neglecting making crucial investments to improve power supply.
A letter from a resident who identified himself as Osahon, accused BEDC management of being strictly profit-driven and not adding value to the system.
“Nothing has improved since BEDC took over from the Power Holding Company of Nigeria. Actually, the situation has got worse. We hardly have power supply and on the days when there is power, it’s only for about three hours a day.”
Another resident, Daniel Abu, who wrote in from Benin City, accused the BEDC management of running the company like a bank.
He said, “I wonder why the Federal Government would allow a management that knows nothing about power to run such a vital sector. The management runs the company like a bank, so it is always expecting to collect money from consumers without investing in the right equipment.
“Presently, some major distribution transformers are faulty. But instead of replacing them, the BEDC management acted against the advice of technicians that the transformers should be replaced. It decided to send the transformers to Lagos State for repairs. The management has been quoted as saying that electricity consumers in Benin do not generate enough funds to warrant the replacement of equipment. Now, most parts of Benin City are without power supply and the management expects residents to pay the monthly service charge.
“The Federal Government must act fast and kick out the management of BEDC. Power is a long term investment, so we need a good multi-national company with the expertise to properly run our power distribution. It is an aberration for people to pay for what they do not consume. The management of BEDC must act and put the right equipment in place to provide adequate power. The present situation in Benin City of rationing power supply is wrong. Government must also take necessary actions to make sure that the right people run the country’s power sector in order for our economy to grow as expected. No power, no economic growth.”
Indeed, the relationship between the company and the residents of the state has been sour from the outset.
Since the privatisation of the PHCN put electricity distribution in Edo under the control of BEDC, residents have held several protests to kick against a monthly fixed tariff of N750 for consumers.
Earlier in the year, following the fallout, the Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, held a meeting with the management team of BEDC, the Benin Forum and the civil society organisations in the state, which was centred on residents’ complaints against fixed charges and estimated tariff by the electricity company.
At the meeting, Oshiomhole said, “Madam, you will recall the day I first formally received you in my office.
“I made some factual statements that the essence of privatisation is the increase in the entrepreneurial efficiency. I think I mentioned it that now that the Federal Government has handed over Nigeria Electric Power Authority or PHCN, it is incumbent that you improve on your service delivery to consumers for them to have confidence in your organisation and to go below that will spark off a revolt from consumers. This is exactly what is happening today.
“As someone elected to represent the interest of the entire Edo people, I cannot be silent to this type of exploitation by one company that claims that there is somebody in Abuja or somewhere responsible for generation and transmission of electricity.
“From what I have gathered from the various speakers, it is certain that what is being done in Edo does not exist in other states. I cannot watch the people of Edo exploited under the guise of fixed tariff and estimated billing.”
However, when the spokesperson of BEDC, Mr. Curtis Nwandie, was contacted, he insisted that he needed to know the exact location of the consumers who lodged such complaints so that he could know how to address the issues.
Asked if the allegations of mismanagement in the company were true, he said, “Define mismanagement. Well, give the complainants my number and ask them to call me directly. I will deal with the issues.”
– The Punch