Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has directed the management of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) to restore power to Auchi and other communities which suffered mass disconnection in the state within 48 hours.
The Governor said could be forced to take necessary actions against the power distribution company if it failed to restore power.
Speaking during a meeting with the management of the BEDC at the Government House, Benin City on Friday, 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.
“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 tells 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,” the Governor stated.
“We Are Not Helpless”
He said it was an abuse of power to disconnect people because they protested, warning them that could revoke their certificate of occupancy of their property in Edo State.
“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 sermonised, 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,” he warned.
“Generation Level Is Falling”
Governor Oshiomhole further cautioned the electricity company, saying he was ready for every misbehaviour and that he would respond correspondingly.
The Governor’s cautions were contained in a statement by his spokesman, Peter Okhiria.
On his part, the State head of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company, Mr Fidelis Obisai, said they had been facing a shortage of power generation and therefore had insufficient power to supply to consumers.
“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 told the Governor.
Mr Obisai denied allegations that the company disconnected households indiscriminately, explaining that only persons indebted to the company were disconnected.