Port Harcourt — A civil society group known as Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development, CEHRD, has identified electricity among other amenities, as lacking in most communities in Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Rivers States.
Other basic amenities lacking in these three states, according to CEHRD, are healthcare, education, good road network, security, employment and environmental care.
Communications and Advocacy Officer, CEHRD, Mr Michael Chidozie, disclosed these while speaking exclusively to our correspondent, on the sideline of an interactive session on a study of community needs priority, governance and development in the Niger Delta.
Chidozie, particularly explained that in Akwa Ibom State, despite hosting two independent power plants, most communities in the state were not linked to the national grid.
“Especially in Akwa Ibom and some parts of Bayelsa, we discovered that most of the communities are not connected to the national grid. They make use of generators and it makes life and standard of living more expensive for them.
“The put on their generators everyday, there is no electrification in some of the communities and you know people cannot prosper in such an environment, as they are living below standard.
“Businesses operating in such communities rely on fuel for their generators, but if there were to be electricity in such places, it would reduce cost of living and people will be able to venture into business; but currently it seems it’s a rat race because they spend so much on generators and government also tax them and at the end, there is no visible development or project especially on electricity to better their lives.”
Asked if state governments can really do much in providing electricity, as power was solely enshrined in the exclusive list of the Federal Government, CEHRD said state governors can set up independent power plants and also liaise with the Federal Government to provide power for their states.
“It is the prerogative of a state governor who was elected to solve the people’s problems, to engage the Federal Government and see how the issue can be handled.
“If the state governments cannot do it, then they have failed the people already because if you look at their manifestos during campaign, they make all sorts of promises including provision of electricity, but when they get into power, they renege on all those campaign promises.
“So it is their job, they receive monthly allocations from the Federal Government, so they should be able to engage the Federal Government on the issue of electricity because people are suffering.
“Secondly, state governments also have the capacity to develop some independent power projects with the supervision of the Federal Government, but most states are not doing that.”
Chidozie also disclosed that the study will be an advocacy tool, which will be used by a community parliamentary committee set up by CEHRD in the three states, to engage their various state governments on good governance.
“We have developed community parliamentary committee, made up of 15members from the three states and we have developed their capacity.
“We have trained them, we are going to be supporting them but they are going to be at the forefront of engaging their state government to provide them basic amenities like electricity, health care, education from next year.
.”The research is an advocacy tool. We are going to use this tool from next year to engage governments, to let them know our finds and recommendations so that these communities could be integrated.
“Most government projects are embarked upon without due consultation communities and most communities have development plan but government projects do not align with that plan, so that’s why we carried out the research and recommendations have been made to the three state governments.”