The Nigerian media was last week agog with news of demonstrations held by the Ishashi Communityof Lagos State against Eko Electricity Development Company. The demonstrators complained of ‘crazy bills’ and poor power supply. It was not an isolated case as demonstrations had been held on several occasions in many parts of the country, particularly in the South West, South East, South South and some parts of the North against the electricity distribution companies (DISCOs).
Contributing to this ugly development, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) in a statement issued on Monday 19th November, 2018, described the performance of the DISCOs as disappointing.
“Something is fundamentally wrong. It is as if the DISCOs are working at cross-purposes with the Federal Government (FG). They have not shown the industrial will for regular power supply despite the uncommon enthusiasm shown by the Minister of Power, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, who has a reputation for high-level delivery of service.
“We can confirm as eye-witnesses since MURIC’s headquarters is based in one of the communities at the receiving end of one of the DISCOs, namely EKDEC. Iba area of Lagos State receives the worst treatment. Apart from ‘crazy bills’, the lights are never supplied throughout the night. People sleep in darkness. They are exposed to the terrible heat and mosquitoes.
“Many transformers have been vandalized and the vandals operate under cover of darkness. All appeals to EKDEC to ensure that light is supplied at night have fallen on deaf ears. Apart from that, armed robbers seize the opportunity of all-night darkness to terrorise the neighbourhood. This would not have been so easy for the hoodlums if there is power supply at night.
“Resolutions reached at the meetings of the communities urging the DISCO to supply electricity at night for security reason have been ignored to date although the resolutions were communicated to EKDEC. This company has constituted itself into a government within a government. It is very insensitive, sadistic and recalcitrant.
“Iba area is a university community where lecturers and students reside in large number yet the DISCO has failed to take this factor into consideration. Students must study. They must also do their assignments. The lecturers too must research. They also have students’ projects, dissertations and theses to peruse and correct. How do they do all these in darkness?
“The case of Lagos State University (LASU) is pathetic. Alhough the university’s visionary, purposeful and dynamic leadership has taken the university to world class status with several initiatives, lack of regular power supply constitutes a potent threat to the sustenance of LASU’s current enviable status.
“In an effort to ensure regular power supply on Ojo campus, the University management spends a humongous amount every month on diesel and maintenance of the big generators which are installed all over the campus. This eats deep into the coffers of the university.
“Apart from students who are in the hostel and who must use electricity at night, LASU students also read on campus during the night and this poses another big challenge. EKDEC’s diabolical policy of ‘no electricity at night’ in Iba area makes this a serious challenge to the university administration.
“It is the height of sadism to give consumers light in the daytime only. People have the opportunity to go outside on the veranda or balcony for fresh air if there is no light during the daytime. They can even take a strol or sit under a tree outside but they dare not attempt that luxury at night for obvious reasons. They are stuck indoors during the night and that is the time they really need electricity. Unfortunately that is the time EKDEC has sworn never to supply electricity to consumers in Iba area.
“People in the area are wondering what is amiss? Of course this is Nigeria and you have to open your eyes properly. Is EKDEC colluding with some companies who need electricity in the daytime to power their industrial machines? We really have no objection to this because it will aid the country’s quick industrialization and tecknological growth but this must not be done at the expense of poor consumers”
MURIC also revealed that its team had held a dialogue session with EKDEC management in the area to no avail.
“About five members of MURIC were picked to discuss with EKDEC management in Iba area about eight months ago. We complained that though electricity was sometimes supplied in the daytime for some hours, it was not supplied at night. They usually switch on around 11 am and switch off around 5 pm. It is an average of six hours per day.
“We learnt that the company had the capacity to supply electricity for ten hours and we suggested that the ten hours should be split between day and night. Isn’t that fair enough? We suggested that the five hours of the night should be from 12 midnight to 5 am. Did we ask for too much? We are yet to see that implemented. EKDEC has no listening ear, at least not for poor areas like Iba.
“MURIC is deeply disturbed as EKDEC and some other DISCOs are depriving Nigerians of the dividends of democracy. They are not allowing Nigerians to enjoy and feel the impact of the good work which the Buhari administration has been doing. After the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) wasted $16 billion procuring darkness and subjecting Nigerians to untold suffering, the DISCOs which are owned and managed by PDP agents and contractors are deliberately frustrating the people in order to destroy the good work of the Buhari administration.
They continue to suck the people’s blood under the protection of the rule of law. This could not have been possible in a military setting. This is one instance where a second look must be taken at the rule of law. Should rapaciously greedy politicians be allowed to subject the people to exploitation using the rule of law as a cover for their atrocity? Is national interest terra incognito in a democracy? Can’t we revoke the contracts of the DISCOs in an emergency situation?
“People in the whole area are frustrated. Coupled with that is the economic implication of the denial of electricity supply at night. We are forced to use generators and to spend huge amounts of money on fuel and maintenance. It is a colossal loss. This bhas forced the communities to drag EKDEC to court under the auspices of the Confederation of Iba Communiries (CIC) but the case has been dragging for more than one year now.
MURIC also accused EKDEC of discrimination. According to the director of the human rights organization, Professor Ishaq Akintola, “EKDEC treats consumers in high brow areas like Ikoyi with special respect but treats those in Iba area with contempt. That is class segregation. Consumers have been compartmentalized into ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. EKDEC’s consumers are in an Animal Farm scenario with its crooked ‘four legs good, two legs better’ mantra.
“MURIC appeals to the honourable Minister of Power, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, to come to our aid. We are really suffering. It is high time FG called the bluff of the DISCOs. If it is true that the contract of the DISCOs will be expiring this month (November 2018), we strongly advise that the contracts should be revoked. These DISCOs are not on the same page with the current administration. They are cogs in the wheel of progress. Let them go back to their avariciously glutonous politicians and superfluously voracious capitalist bourgeoise.
“For the sake of microscopic clarity, we affirm that the concern of the Muslim Rights Concern is the welfare of the masses. We are greatly concerned that the DISCOs are supplying darkness instead of light. We are concerned as socio-intellectual jihadists seeking 24-hour electricity supply to Nigerians, freedom for the oppressed, food for the hungry, healing for the sick, clothing apparels for the Unclad and shelter for the homeless. We remain oppressed until these welfare objectives are attained. The struggle for better life for the poor masses is a noble jihad and we will not abandon this great path.
“As we round off, we call on EKDEC in particular and other DISCOs to stop deceiving their consumers. You can fool some people sometimes but you cannot fool all the people all of the time. Enough is enough. MURIC will not hesitate to spearhead a massive but peaceful demonstration against them if they do not perform. We urge FG to put an end to the DISCO’s contracts as quickly as possible because they have failed Nigerians”.