Fuming Governor to BEDC: I will join street protest against you if….
Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has directed the management of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) to restore power to any community which suffered mass disconnection in the state within 48 hours or he could be forced to take a retaliatory action against the power distribution company.
Speaking during a meeting with the management of the BEDC at the Government House, Benin City, today Friday June 3, 2016, Governor Oshiomhole decried the indiscriminate disconnection, failure to deliver power to the people and exploitation of the consumers through exorbitant charges.
He said: “We have had a couple of conversations with you, with your Managing Director and your senior management over the unacceptable deterioration of the services that you provide as a distribution company, and the prohibitive charges that your company imposes on the people of this State, and even the arrogance with which you respond when consumers genuinely raise concerns about growing darkness and rising bills.
“It is absolutely unacceptable in a civilized society that because you are a private monopoly, you resort to tactics which are meant to destroy the economy of this State and make life miserable for families and create such confusion that, if not arrested, you will not be able to survive in this State.”
The Governor continued, “In different parts of Edo State, when protesters raise concerns which you cannot fault, namely that you do not invest in the provision of transformers, and therefore in many cases they are in the dark for weeks, for months, some of them nine months, and even the few places you provide light, maybe three hours a day, you charge bills that are as high as thirty hours a day, and when they protest, you arrogantly disconnect them. As we speak, the traditional ruler in Auchi told me you have shut down supply to that area, and all the businesses there, hotel owners have come to complain.
“In different parts of Edo South, Edo Central, the story is the same. And as the governor of the State, I have continued to appropriate public funds to provide facilities that ought to be provided by Benin Electricity Distribution Company. The Government has no business buying transformers which is part of the cost which a distribution company should take on board. We take taxpayers’ money to buy these transformers and with or without power supply, you collect exorbitant rates.”
He said, “when I hear as you have often done that you have shut down in Igarra, in different parts of the State, including Benin area and Esan area, because people protested in a manner that you don’t approve of, you resort to abusing your power by disconnecting them. If you abuse your power like that, and I respond the same way, I have the power to revoke your certificate of occupancy of the property that you own in Edo State, and you will not be able to do business in this State without the approval of Edo State Government.
“The Federal can sell or auction or dash to you their facility, but I remain the custodian of the land in this State, and I have powers to revoke all your properties so that you don’t work from the assumption that the State is helpless. We are not helpless. We have tried to accommodate you; I have appealed, I have sermonized, I have held meetings with you at the highest level, I don’t know how many times now. The civil society people who serve as the conscience of our people have taken time out to engage in as much as any provocative man can do what qualifies for a peaceful, non-violent protest, and the response of your company has been very arrogant.”
Oshiomhole declared, “I just called you today to tell you that I have had enough. I am right now ready, for every misbehavior you do, I will respond correspondingly. Even your property in Benin, I can revoke the certificate of occupancy, and you will have no land to do business. This is the worst side, the ugliest face of private capital monopoly. Our people are completely fed up, and you are destroying the economy of this State.
“The next time the guys are on the streets, I will join them. What I will do with my privileged office, I will do it because enough is enough.”
The Governor charged the Benin Electricity Distribution Company to restore power to areas which have been disconnected within 48 hours.
He said, “I will give you an ultimatum: within the next 48 hours go and restore power there. If you do not, I reserve the right to compound your problem. Let me say this, if other people accept what is wrong, Edo people will insist on what is right.”
On his part, State head of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company, Engr. Fidelis Obisai said they have been facing a shortage of power generation, and therefore have insufficient power to supply to consumers. He said, “As at date, our installed capacity, our equipment on ground to deliver power to the people of Edo State is at least minimally 12 hours a day. We receive power from the generation company before we can deliver. The generation level is falling by the day.”
He said, “The issue about disconnection, we don’t disconnect people indiscriminately. We disconnect people who are owing, who are indebted to the company.”