Worried by the continuous power failure in the Benin City metropolis, Benin Indigenous People Assembly (BIPA) on Wednesday, thrown its weight behind the state government demand for the immediate withdrawal of operational licence granted the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC).
The pressure group’s demand was contained in a statement signed by West Ehiogie West-Idahosa and Orobosa Omo-Ojo, chairman and secretary general (BOT), respectively, and made available to newsmen in Benin City.
Idahosa, who urged the Federal Government and its regulatory bodies to promptly withdraw the licence or at the least refuse to renew its operational licence to be expired soon, said that was the only way to prevent the present battle with BEDC from deteriorating into anarchy.
The statement, titled “Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) and the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED) are enemies of Edo People,” however dismissed the claimed by the two electricity bodies that the state enjoy the lion share of what the company’s get from the national grid.
He also said the group frowned at the alleged attempt by ANED spokesperson, Sunday Oduntan, seeking support from sister states by “clannishly creating the mischievous impression” that the state Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has demanded for the reduction of energy allocated to Delta, Ondo and Ekiti.”
Idahosa alleged that the reality on ground indicated that BEDC had no capacity to distribute the so-called 9 percent allegedly allocated to Edo State.
He noted that what was happening was an “uneconomical wastage of energy” due to poor and inadequate distribution system because of obsolete networks and very old power transformers.
According to Idahosa, despite the abysmal service by BEDC, the company has continued to punish her customers with arbitrary billings, even without consumption. Apart from the state governor, the civil societies under the aegis of Edo Civil Society Organisations have dragged BEDC to court seeking the withdrawal of the company’s licence.
“In the circumstances, we support the call by Governor Godwin Obaseki for the sack of BEDC, the licensed DISCO responsible for supply of electricity to Edo State.
“We the people and residents of Edo State have noticed with utter consternation, indignation and dismay the reckless and callous abandonment of BEDC statutory mandate to provide decent and sufficient energy supply for the needs of our people.
“BEDC has clearly failed in its duties and responsibilities to supply energy to the people and residents of Edo State. Indeed, in the last one year, Edo State has been thrown into one hell of darkness by the electricity company.
“Consequently, the state has witnessed capital flight with businesses shutting down and relocating to areas where it can find better and regular energy supply. Invariably, this economic down turn has also spiralled into the unfortunate increase in the incidence of criminality as many jobless youths now resort to crime, committed in the darkness occasioned by BEDC’S negligence and nonchalance,” he said.
He, however, noted that failure of the electricity distribution company was geared towards sabotaging the economic policies of the government of Edo State of trying to industrialise the state.
When contacted, Tayo Adekunle, the BEDC corporate affairs manager, said the current power crisis in the state was temporal and assured that the management was doing everything possible to ensure that adequate power supply was restored in the state.
He urged the people to exercise patient, adding that the company was employing other avenue such as the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with Rubitec Nigeria Limited and Rocky Mountain Institute to provide mini-grid electricity solution.
He said the tripartite MoU was part of the process to boost power availability to customers in remote communities within its areas of operation.
“BEDC boss is working assiduously to resolve all challenges with a view to improving power availability to the affected areas in the state and all states under its jurisdiction,” he said.
Recall that Governor Godwin Obaseki recently walked out the managing director of BEDC, Funke Osibodu, from his office during House of Representative Committee on Power visit over poor power supply in some of the states.