Look Inwards for Solutions to Power Crisis, Oba of Benin Tasks Discos

Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City

The Benin monarch, His Royal Majesty, Oba Ewuare II has challenged electricity distribution companies (Discos) in Nigeria to strengthen their Research and Development (R/D) capacity in resolving the hydra-headed problems associated with the power sector value chain.

Oba Ewuare II gave the advice when he received the new management of Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) in his palace in Benin City, Edo State, saying Nigeria’s energy crisis could be tackled if players in the industry are solution driven.

He explained that the economic uncertainty caused by the depreciation of the naira and high cost of diesel was taking a toll on businesses and manufacturing sector in Nigeria, thereby pushing citizens, especially the downtrodden to the extreme.

“We appeal to you to do your homework. If you have research and Development (R/D) Department, then, engage them to do more to find out what the problem is and find solution.

“You have association of Discos in Nigeria, get them together and have a conference. Have a retreat and find out what to do to improve the power distribution problems because it is enormous.

“It is the same story over and over again. It seems not to be going away. Please do your best. If you identify anything that we can do, please, do not hesitate to let us know. If you have any.

“With the rate the naira is dropping, it is not easy for the ordinary man or the Ogas, (wealthy Nigerians) let alone the ordinary man in the street. This kind of economic hardship can drive some ordinary people to the extreme.

“It they cannot continue to cope with the pressure of no power supply in the country. They cannot even set up businesses or industries that rely on diesel which is very expensive and sometimes, you may not get.

“It is the same story over and over again. It seems not to be going away. Please do your best. If you identify anything that we can do, please, do not hesitate to let us know. If you have any.

“We all know that there is always a problem with electricity.

“We spend a lot of money in the palace because of lack of electricity. We can’t explain what is happening in the whole Country. We can’t explain it — may be devil is in the work. Improve on your services to the people.”

He added: “Thank you for recognising the place of traditional rulers in the scheme of things. We assure that you will be in our prayers. We wish the MD to be successful in the onerous task that has been placed on your shoulders.

“We cannot say that we envy you because there is quite a bit of problems. If you do a small percentage of improvement that will benefit the people. I am sure that you will just be happy,” Oba Ewuare said.

Addressing the Oba, earlier, the Managing Director/Chief Executive officer of BEDC, Dr. Henry Ajagbawa, explained that the purpose of the visit was to pay respect to the monarch, solicit for prayers and seek his counsel for guidance in its quest to enhance the fortunes of the organisation.

Ajagbawa admitted that due to enormous challenges facing the power sector, the federal government, took some steps to reposition some of the distribution companies, including BEDC, to reposition the sector through robust engagement with governments at all levels and other Stakeholders in the gamut of electricity for improve performance.

According to him, “Suffice to say that it is not news that we have electricity challenge in Nigeria. We believe that with collaboration, with governments and our communities, we should be able to go further. It is a huge challenge ahead.”

He noted that months ago, the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), and Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE), divested and restructured five electricity distribution companies in the country, comprising Kano Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO); Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC); Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company, (KEDC), and Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC) over poor performance’ of the affected DISCOs and other issues of concern, which led shake up in their managements.

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