By Jonathan Ugbal
Residents in Ogoja and Obudu local government areas of northern Cross River have continuously paid electricity bills for a duration of over two months with no power supplied to them findings by CrossRiverWatch reveal.
This comes barely 6 months after governor Ben Ayade had promised Obudu people that they will enjoy electricity during Christmas (2015) and Easter celebrations at his thanksgiving ceremony and less than a week after the state government signed a memorandum of understanding with a power firm to supply 24 hours electricity to the capital city, Calabar.
In Ogoja, residents say the last time they received electricity was in the first week of January and since then have continuously paid bills with the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC) not supplying them electricity.
A landlord in Igoli told CrossRiverWatch that, “My tenants are beginning to view me as a 419 (fraudster) because for some time now, I have shared NEPA bill (electricity bill) with them and after paying for two months, they are yet to see the light. One even complained openly and stopped short of calling me names.”
In Obudu local government area where the sitting governor hails from, the story of power supply has been a lingering issue as there has been less than a week’s supply of electricity from PHEDC for almost a year with the council legislature directing residents to stop paying bills sometime last year until such a time when supply improves.
Some residents protested against the high bills and the unavailability of power and heaved a sigh of relief when a diesel powered embedded station was constructed with six electricity generating plants installed behind the veterinary clinic along ranch road.
CrossRiverWatch gathered that during the test run, several homes lost their appliances due to the high voltage supplied which lasted a few weeks only and stopped sometime in January with rumors making the rounds that the governor was yet to commission the project.
When CrossRiverWatch visited the facility, the gate was under lock and key with a man in his late forties and another in his teenage years guarding the facility inside. They quickly shut themselves in when they noticed this reporter coming their way.
As at the time of filing this report, it was still unclear who issued the contract, to whom, how much and whom it was supposed to serve as there was no project notification board around the premises of the facility even though it has been attributed to the governor as one of his “many projects been carried out in Obudu.”
Residents who spoke to CrossRiverWatch say they have stopped paying bills though the PHEDC still issues them.
“I cannot go and ask my tenants to pay for what they are not seeing” says Rose Ugbe. “It will make me look stupid and lead to the questioning of my integrity. When we were asked to stop paying, I kept paying but it seems the whole thing is enmeshed in controversy so I have to stop paying” she adds.
For Assang Ugar, a student, he queries, “Pay for what? How do you pay for darkness? Will you pay for what you don’t see or enjoy? They are not serious, I dare them to come disconnect the light, In fact why do I care? I have been using fuel which is N170 (per liter) now for over a year so to hell with them and their light.”
Across Obudu town, the feeling remained same with calls for the immediate kick off of the newly constructed plant.
As at the time of filing this report, CrossRiverWatch was yet to get the comment from the PHEDC on the situation.
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