Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
Mild drama ensued at the office of the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, yesterday when the governor walked the Managing Director of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC), Mrs. Funke Osibodu, out of his office for failing to meet obligations to electricity consumers in the state and throwing the state into darkness for weeks.
This happened when the governor received members of the House of Representatives Committee on Power led by Hon. Daniel Asuquo, who were in Government House on a courtesy visit.
The governor was surprised to see the BEDC boss, whose name was not on the list of expected guests to the Government House, who embedded herself among the National Assembly delegation to gain access to the governor, who has been in darkness with millions of residents for weeks.
Speaking with the delegation after Osibodu had left the gathering, the governor said BEDC has continued to fail in collaborating with the state government to provide stable electricity in the state, instead the company has posed as an obstacle to meeting the goal.
According to Obaseki, “BEDC has been an obstacle all the way. They would not provide electricity and also not allow you to get alternative sources of power. The state will not allow it.
“As governor of the state, we have lost confidence in BEDC. We don’t want them here. We are in darkness. Let us remain in darkness until we find people who are capable of delivering electricity. This is our position.”
Obaseki said despite the fact that the state generates about 600 to 700 megawatts of electricity, the people are still in darkness, wondering how he is expected to explain the irony to the people, who are well aware that they produce a substantial amount of electricity in the country.
He noted that BEDC has failed to recognise that they have to be patriotic and responsible to the state and the country, instead, they have been noncommittal about the issue of power distribution.
“To assist, we set up electricity committee across the local government areas chaired by the Deputy Governor of the state, Philip Shaibu, with BEDC as member to understand the challenge. But BEDC frustrated our resolve to finding a lasting solution to the issue of providing electricity to our people,” he stated.
Earlier, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Power, Hon. Daniel Asuquo, said they were in the state for an oversight function on the activities of BEDC and other players in the electricity value chain.
He said the state consumes half of daily power supply under the BEDC, noting that the state has the highest number of consumers on the network, which makes it critical to engage the governor and people of the state on the level of service delivery by players in the value chain.
The senator said: “We are here to see how to intervene to ensure that you deliver on your electioneering promises to the people of the state as you are answerable to them.”
In its reaction to the development, the BEDC said the visit by the House of Representatives Committee on Power, in company with officials of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), BEDC, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) and the Niger Delta Power Holding Company, was aimed at updating and assisting in finding solutions to the recent power-related issues in Benin.
It said, “The BEDC continues to be a responsive and responsible distributor of electricity across the franchise states of Edo, Delta, Ondo and Ekiti and is committed to serving its customers better.
“In addition, it is on record that out of the nine per cent allocation that the BEDC gets from the national grid, Edo State gets above 40 per cent, while the other three states share the balance. We intend to continue to work towards ensuring that various bottlenecks across the power value chain are eliminated to the benefit of our customers in all our franchise states.
“As a host community, we shall also continue to support the good people of Edo State in ensuring that an enabling environment that will create jobs and improvement in the lives of the Edo citizens is sustained. It should be noted that Edo State has the highest number of prepaid meters all over the country and with the introduction of Meter Asset Provider by the NERC, we shall further accelerate the metering of consumers with effect from first quarter of 2019 when the scheme is expected to kick off in order to rapidly reduce estimated billing.”
According to the statement, as a stopgap on the recent reduction in power supplied to Edo State on some feeders in Central Benin, arrangement was made to connect customers on the affected feeders to existing functional ones in a manner that would not overload the system and to provide supply albeit on limited basis, pending when normal supply will resume after the replacement of the repairs of the faulty transformers.
“Several announcements have been made on locations affected. We expect normalising of the situation soonest. We encourage customers to make use of our existing customer complaints channels when there are issues/complaints while we look forward to serving our customers better.”