The Edo State Council of Traditional Rulers and Chiefs, headed by the Benin Monarch, Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo, Uku Akpolo kpolo, Oba Ewuare II, has thrown its weight behind the tough stand of the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, on the poor service delivery of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) leading to weeks of blackout across the state.
In a communique issued at the end of its meeting held on Friday, November 30, 2018, at the Oba Palace, Benin City, the Council said it “condemned in strong terms the poor performance and inability of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) to provide electricity to the good people of Edo State.”
It “Frowned at BEDC’s inability to provide prepaid meters to those willing to buy and its imposition of illegal and outrageous estimated billing system on its consumers” and “Fully endorsed the actions of His Excellency, Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki, Governor of Edo State, in calling for the non-renewal of the contract between BEDC and the relevant agency of the Federal Government and urged the Governor to vigorously pursue the procurement of alternative source(s) of power in order to bring comfort to the people of Edo State.”
The Edo State Council of Traditional Rulers and Chiefs, said that after consulting with the relevant stakeholders and experts in the electricity sector, it decided to join force with the state government to demand quality service from BEDC.
“We cannot continue to dwell in unending darkness and watch our people suffer untold hardship, resulting from the inefficiency of BEDC. Our people who are into small and medium scale businesses are going out of business daily and bigger businesses are having their share of the hardship,” the highly revered traditional rulers said.
They added: “We will not allow our economy to collapse on account of the incompetence of BEDC management and we urge BEDC to either rise to the occasion and provide electricity or leave our communities.
“As leaders, we have exercised sufficient restraint, hoping that BEDC would overhaul its system to better serve Edo people. But the company’s capacity to deliver on its mandate is suspect, and what is worse, is the disrespectful posture of its managing director Mrs Funke Osibodu.”
The Oba Ewuare II-led Council explained that “Our people have a long history of welcoming businesses, foreign and local. We have not changed, but we will not fold our arms and watch our economy collapse. Funke should either give Edo people electricity or leave Edo State.”
The call by the traditional rulers is coming days after some residents and groups in the state asked the management of BEDC to take lessons from other power distribution companies in the country in order to deliver on its mandate.
Mr Osagiede Izekor, who resides in Benin City said his parents who live in Kaduna enjoy about 24-hour electricity supply in the Northwest state, daily.
He described as “unacceptable, the total blackout that Edo residents are currently experiencing and the attendant negative impact on businesses and social activities in the state.”
Izekor said: “My parents live in Kaduna State and I go there regularly to see them. I speak with them daily and they enjoy regular electricity supply, up to 24 hours daily. The gross inefficiency of BEDC is very glaring in Edo State and I am glad that the state governor has spoken the minds of all Edo people with regard to how they feel about the electricity distribution company.”
He urged BEDC to review its business model and harken to the voice of the people before the company is thrown out of the state as its growing unpopularity can earn it a major public relations disaster.
“The company must review its practices if it wants to remain in business in the state and elsewhere. Public dissatisfaction has reached unprecedented level and the worst could befall BEDC sooner than later.”
“The managing director cannot continue to grand stand when clearly, she is grossly inefficient and incompetent. She is the most unpopular and unwanted personality in Edo State today. Ask the market women, small and medium scale business owners about the MD of BEDC, they all have very harsh things to say about her for keeping them perpetually in darkness.”
Izekor, who is a public relations expert, advised BEDC not to wait for its current unpopularity to degenerate into a crisis before resorting to reactive public relations strategy, instead, the agency should be proactive.