The intimidation Of Obudu/Obanlikwu Communities With Blackout BY VENATIUS IKEM

In Breaking News, Columnists, National News, Opinion, Politics
Venatius Ikem
Venatius Ikem

For over two months the two local governments of Obudu and Obanlikwu have been completely cut off from the national grid of electricity supply.

Reason: to punish them for daring to complain and protest over the overbearing and fraudulent activities of the staff of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company PHEDC, that services the area!

About two months ago, in a rare and unanimous decision of the various trade unions, communities, traditional rulers and all organised groups in Obudu, it was agreed that enough is enough and they should call the bluff of the staff of the electricity distribution company and formally protest the arbitrary, oppressive over billing of their communities amidst the abysmal supply of the product.

It has been observed over the years that hiding under the guise of estimated billing (i.e. billing without metres), the electricity company has steadily raised the bills by over 500% within a very short period.

It is worst that while they have lived under this yoke, actual supply of electricity only happens when bills are due for collection.

In other words it is usually the last two to three days of the month or whenever they are about to serve the bills that some light is seen.

Indeed I am witness to a joke in my village that predicts light using the calendar accordingly.

Once it is 27/28 of the month, the villagers will tell you ‘NEPA will soon give light! And of course their bill. Thereafter, they will have to endure darkness for another 30 days or so until the next billing period.

This has been the state of electricity supply in the area that led to the showdown with the Port Harcourt disco in the hope that the company will look into their plight and improve their services.

I will later publish a full text of the documented protest and request to the company which accompanied a peaceful March by all the organisations mentioned above with unanimous support of the entire communities of Obudu and duly observed on invitation by the Nigeria Police, the SSS, civil defence etc.

Alas, the reaction of the company was swift: all communities in Obudu and unfortunately Obanlikwu which lies after Obudu were cut off the grid. Light has not flicked for a second since that peaceful protest!

In a democracy where citizens, deprived of the best of representation, sometimes feel free to find their voices through peaceful means in this manner but are brazenly intimidated into submission, what statement are we making?

Of course most of the political elite reside everywhere except home and hardly care while on an occasional weekend visit! The truth is that small businesses collapse and poverty deepens.

I am informed that the State Governor who happens to come from Obudu had not long before this protest promised the community in a pulpit that he would change his name if by December 2015 there is no uninterrupted electricity supply in the town!

It is ironic that two months after that vow, even the little there used to be has been taken away!

The citizens live, pray and wait hopefully for December to come soon, so that their son will not change his name even in this era of CHANGE!

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