By Paul Olayemi
RESIDENTS of Mosogar community, Ethiope West Local Government Area, Delta State, who have lived without electricity in the last seven years, have cried out that they were tired of frequently contributing money to officials of Benin Electricity Distribution Company, BEDC, to buy transformer, poles and cable wires, and yet no power.
Thousands of Mosogar inhabitants had in December, last year, in a protest against BEDC, laid siege to the busy Benin-Warri highway, causing massive gridlock to draw attention to their plight.
They said besides raising almost N20 million, including payment for outstanding bills with the 95 per cent of the bills, estimated bills, the community was still in darkness.
Almost one year after the prayers and fasting, the condition has not changed. The protesters who carried placards with inscriptions: BEDC, leave our community alone;
They are extorting us and We give you one week or we will close down the highway, lamented that in spite of the bad situation, the company’s officials were extorting money from them.
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What is our offence? Residents ask
An aggrieved resident, Mr. Adanor Awalu, told NDV: “We are tired of everyday contributions by the community for BEDC to buy transformers or cable wire and yet, we do not see light.”
Another dweller, Ese Akpojitota, asserted: “We have millions of naira to BEDC in electricity bills, yet we are in darkness, no response, every day, they keep giving us one condition after the other, that is why we took to the streets and we will not give up.”
On his part, 43-year-old Onome Raymond, leader of the pack that blocked the old road at Jesse Junction during the protest, bemoaned:“What exactly did we do, even if we have offended them, should they not forgive us?”
After all kinds of expenses, no light— Akporoka, President- General
President-General of Mosogar, Col. Columbus Akporoka (retd) told NDV that when the issue of blackout began over six years ago, “Mosogar indigenes rose up to the challenges because the power transformer we were having then, had served us over 35 years.
“They told us we needed a new transformer. We mobilised and met our people and some cash was raised for them, and since then, we have raised cash after cash for cables, transformers, bills and all sorts of payments and yet, the community is still in darkness.”
Churches blame evil powers
Last year March, three general overseers of churches in the area held a three-day prayer session to cast out evil forces allegedly behind the continuous ‘no electricity’ in the land with one having to add fasting for that three days.
Pastor Godwin Onovore of God is Alive Ministry, one of the churches involved, told NDV that it was obvious that the continuous no solution to power outage was the handiwork of evil forces, saying: “If not, why has BEDC after fulfilling all the conditions, still refused to light up the community?”
Questions over Okowa’s contract for 2 transformers
Former chairman of the area, Dr Jerry Wilson, said: “The governor awarded a contract for two 2.5 KVA transformers because we were using one. My question is; why is this contractor demanding money from the natives to do his job?”
He added that part of the reason the youths took to the streets was extortion in the name of restoring light, demanding: “What is going on, we want to know, let them tell us why they are always demanding for funds?”
A concerned villager noted: “Last year, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa was said to have been approached by Senator Ighoyota Amori to provide transformer for the people of the community and a contract was awarded for the installation of electrical transformers, months after, the community is yet to have light so what is the problem?”
Nobody collecting money after contract award —Akporoka
Mosogar president-general, Akporoka, debunked the claim, saying though the community collected funds at the earlier stage to buy transformer and meet other BEDC demands, since the contract was awarded to a contractor, they have not collected a dime from anyone.
“The community at a stage approached Senator Ighoyota Amori to reach out to Delta State Government and a transformer was bought for us. Last year, Senator Amori met with Governor Okowa and the governor promised to solve the light situation and late last year, the government lived up to the expectations by awarding the contract.
“As I speak to you, the contract is 80 per cent completed, he only need the regulatory body to inspect his work and hand over to the state,” he said.
BEDC unaware of project status — Tayo, Head, Corporate Affairs
Contacted, Head, BEDC Corporate Affairs, Benin City, Mr. Adekunle Tayo, responding to the award of power installation project by Delta State Government to a contractor, said: “We are not aware if the contractor has finished the project or not.”
Vanguard News Nigeria
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