Port Harcourt — The entire Akwa Ibom State, including Uyo its capital city, has been thrown into darkness following the action of a youth group, West Itam Youth Forum, to picket the transmission station in Itu and, causing the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, to shut down supply.
Speaking on the development, the management of Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, PHED, which described the situation as unwarranted, said the protesting youths have also moved to its Uyo office to drop a coffin in continuation of the protest.
PHED Manager, Corporate Communications, Mr John Onyi, said the action of the youth group has led to inability of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, to wheel out power to Port Harcourt Disco for onward distribution to its valued customers in Akwa Ibom state.
“The forced outage is sequel to the action of the Itam West Youth Forum under the leadership of Obong Ubong Akpan, who early this morning barricaded the Transmission Station, located at Itu close to the state capital, thereby forcing the station to shut down supply forcefully.
“In addition, the same group later moved to PHED office at 4-Lane with a coffin, a show of shame championed by its leader, dropped the said coffin at the entrance of the office, scared customers away, thereby leading to operations blockade of the company.
“Also, the economic activities of the entire state have been brought to a halt as a result of the sacking of TCN’s officials on duty by the irate youth.”
Onyi also accused the leader of the protests, Ubong Akpan, of staging the protest to blackmail the company for refusing to award him contracts, warning that the company will not be cowed by the group.
He called on Akwa Ibom State government and security agencies in the state, to step in and advise the youth group and its leaders to vacate the premises of TCN and, remove their coffin from PHED’s office in Uyo, with a view to wheeling out supply to PHED customers.
“The action of the youth may have been surreptitious by its leader, Ubong Akpan who has repeatedly demanded for a contract worth N6,660,000.00 to carry out enumeration on behalf of PHED in his community, Itu, comprising 79 villages.
“Of course the management did not succumb to his hate speech and blackmail, hence, he now organized and misled unsuspecting members of his group in order to achieve his self-aggrandizement which he purportedly hinged on poor supply to his community-Itu.
“He also submitted a proposal to PHED for sensitization in his community amounting to N731,200.00 which was declined for lack of merit since there is an- house department responsible for publicity.
“Severally, we have met and engaged the community on the value chain in the electricity industry which we exhaustively educated them on its relevance to the sector.
“PHED cannot be intimidated or coerced into doing the biddings of a self-acclaimed-messiah, as we have the mandate of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, to distribute power supply to our customers including Itu community in our franchise area.”