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For over a decade, about a million of Ogun residents in 18 communities in the Ifo Local Government area of Ogun state have lived without electricity.
But, in a bid to restore electricity into the vast communities, no fewer than five lives were lost, one person got blind while N15 million transformer acquired through contributions among themselves got blown off two years after it was installed
Full of sorrow, the communities were drawn back to the former situation where everything was on a standstill for over 10 years when the transformer got spoilt two years after . FAWAZ ADEBISI captures the mood .
Not less than 18 communities in Ifo local government area of Ogun state had been wallowing in darkness for 10 years which had crippled every aspect t of their lives especially, their economy .
The 18 Community Development Associations ; Ifelodun Agbare;
Irede Agbare ; Olorunlasiwaju Agbare ; Ireakari Agbare; Ifesokan Agbare ; Charity ; Heritage Agbare ; Temidire ; Irepodun Ferowa; Itesiwaju Ferowa ; Glorious Ferowa ; Anifiwose Agbagi ; Ifetedo Agbare ; Itesiwaju Agbagi ; Ifelodun Agbagi ; Irebami Agbagi ; Olorunsogo Phase 1 and Olorunsogo Phase 2 ; were under the umbrella of Agbagi Community Development Committee located on the Federal road, Gasline, Old Bank, along Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway.
On 2022 Christmas Day, this reporter visited Irepodun Community, one of the communities in Agbagi, hoping to see the people feeling lively and happy, but, the reverse was the case.
The atmosphere in the community was boring, no thanks to lack of electricity. There was no blaring of music in many houses, except a few ones, whose owners and occupants put on the generators set
One of the residents, Mrs. Blessing, a mother of three, who owns a patent medicine store in the Community was approached and promptly responded to this reporter’s enquiry on the situation in the Communities, “this is how we live, no difference, even after we struggled to restore electricity, we get light for just one hour or so in about a month.
“Though, some have traveled, we that are at home are supposed to be celebrating this day with light, no light and the price of petrol is now very high,” she added.
This reporter therefore decided to wait till evening, to see if the electricity would be restored, which never happened till he left the community around 6pm.
The next day, which was a public holiday, this reporter revisited the community around 11:20 am to see the situation, yet, the light wasn’t restored.
This reporter went back to Mrs. Blessing to ask if there was probably light after he had left the previous night, in response to this, she shook her head sideways and hissed.
Suddenly, around 11:45am, the light was restored, everyone in the community, most especially kids, went into jubilation and immediately, residents started looking for where to plug their phones, while others rushed to pump water from their boreholes.
The dull moment changed with sounds of music coming from every corner in the community.
Unfortunately, this lively moment did not last long, as the light was taken after 40 minutes of enjoyment. Life returned to the former dull situation.
…How Wooden Electrical Poles Threaten Residents’ Lives
A calamity was averted in 2006 when an electricity bamboo pole fell due to the heavy rain and windstorm .
The chairman of the Ifeparapo Joint CDA, Mr Oluwole Samuel, said residents were always afraid during the rainy season.
Ifeparapo Joint CDA is the Community that superintendents the other 17 communities .
Samuel explained “Wind would blow and the bamboo poles would fall down, the wire would spark or cut. Dried grasses catch fire sometimes.
Samuel who said he had lived in the community for over 18 years, explained the challenges faced and casualties recorded by the community in the course of restoring light.
He narrated that ,long before now, the communities had tapped the light from a village called Ebiti Titun. He explained further that the Ebiti Titun is about three meters away from the community .
Findings have shown that the village which fed the 18 communities the light was reportedly energized by a former governor of the state, Chief Segun Osoba before 2003.
“I used five stabilizers to power my television, because the voltage that came in was 22 instead of 220,” he said.
However, the situation became worse as the communities which had signed an agreement with Ebiti Titun villagers could not meet the demands again. This development prompted them to
embark on their own project.
….Generator Fumes Wreck Havoc
Many residents of the Irepodun community while sharing their experiences, lamented that they have not enjoyed electricity for the past 15 years. They further claimed that they had been using their generators to power their homes.
“On many occasions, I almost got my family killed with generator fumes,” a man who identified himself as Lawayi lamented.
According to Lawayi, he and his family live in a two room apartment, and whenever it’s dusk, I put my generator on, usually placed at the back of my house.
He said, “I service my generator every week, the money I spend on it is enough to get electricity to my home, but, it’ll be a waste of money.”
He therefore explained how he almost got his kids and self killed.
“My generator has almost killed all of us in the family, it threatened our lives. One night, I was so tired, but I needed a fan, so I put on the generator and went to relax. Unfortunately, I slept off. 30 minutes later, I woke up to see my children coughing, smoke everywhere, they could not talk clearly, I just had to rush out, to turn off the generator,” Lawayi, father of two explained.
However, when asked for his reason for not using the government electricity, he said it would be a waste of money, saying that, those that paid for public light, gets light for just one hour or two in a month.
Also, Mr Taiwo, who is known as Angaba, also shared how his wife was almost choked to death in the kitchen.
He said, “My wife’s kitchen is close to the generator house, only an iron door separates the two buildings. One day, after putting on the generator, my wife went to the kitchen to prepare dinner, around 7:45pm. Unfortunately, she put palm oil on fire. The smoke from the oil was what we were battling with when I discovered I didn’t close the door demarcating the two blocks. Everywhere was smoky.”
However, he thankfully said that his wife survived the incident as she regained consciousness after 30 min.
Taiwo said, his wife is an asthmatic patient.
Another man, Olorunloye who is a motorcyclist, said only few people in the community use the government electricity, others stay without light, while some get themselves generators.
“We Spent Over N15 Million To Restore Electricity”
According to the Ifeparapo JCDA Financial Secretary, Mr Quadry, over N15 million was spent to bring in electricity to the community.
According to him, the more the project was delayed, the more the costs of the materials increased. Meanwhile, the project took over five years before completion, from 2015 to 2020.
Quadry therefore explained in detail how the project cost over N15m.
According to the data provided, the transformer only cost N2.2m.
However, the chairman of the Ifeparapo JCDA explained that the transformer was supposed to be sold at N2m.050 but due to delay in payment, it increased.
Speaking on the high tension pole, the chairman said 37 poles were used in total.
Corroborating the chairman’s statement, the Financial Secretary said each pole cost N30,000,saying that N1.110m was spent on the poles alone.
In the same vein, the Fin Sec explained that the cables used were two, saying, one cost N300,000 while the other cost N480,000.
He added that, the Feeder pillar used, cost N150,000 as High tension wire used, cost N5.850m.
“The low tension poles used were four as each of them cost N25,000, making the total of N100,000.
“Money spent on low tension wire for the street is N4.032m as each cost N1.008m while four were purchased”.
He therefore explained that the casting and fencing of the transformer base cost N220,000, he said the contractor got N1.85m. According to him, the total miscellaneous fee was N480,000.
He said “the exact amount spent on the Ifeparapo electrification project is N16,762,000.
Speaking on how the money was generated, Samuel said every house was asked to pay N10,000 initially, however, the money was later increased to N30,000 per house.
“The first amount we raised was N900,000 which was used in securing concrete poles, the high tension poles we needed were 25, according to our contractor, Mr. Yunusa”.
He further explained that having erected the 25 poles, it was discovered that they needed to buy 12 more poles, making the total of 37 poles, stressing that they spent over N1.110m on poles.
“As we spent this much on poles only, we were discouraged, residents started nagging. So, we retreated a bit,” Samuel explained that a pole cost N30,000 as at that time.
After spending all the money gathered, the community had no choice than to abandon the project, living in darkness for another three years.
In 2018, according to the chairman, no penny entered the community’s pocket as there was no other choice than to borrow money to get the project done.
“So, we went to our contractor for help, and he took us to one of his customers in Alaba, Mr Abiola.”
Samuel explained that whenever the community deposits a little amount of money, Abiola gives them high tension wire, and other materials needed till they finish the project.
…. “Neighbouring Communities Believed It Was A Government Project”
According to the secretary of the Ifeparapo JCDA, Mr Adebisi Sulaimon, some neighbouring communities stood against them, wanting to tap from the electricity illegally, without the executives’ consent.
He stated that a neighbouring community went ahead to report them to IBEDC in Ibadan.
However, he stated that, before this issue arose, the executives’ had taken adequate measures, as they had written to IBEDC and the policemen in the Local Government, to avoid any problem in the future.
Mr Adebisi said, “the chairman and residents of the community started agitating, in 2021, they said the project was done by the government, so they have the right to use it, but we asked them they couldn’t, except they took permission from us.
“Unknowingly to them, we have written letters to the IBEDC in Ibadan and the police command in Ifo, to avoid this type of problem. So, they later came back home to settle with us.”
“We Lost Five Lives During The Process”
According to the chairman, no fewer than five deaths, one fatal accident and one serious illness were recorded in the course of restoring electricity in the communities.
“Some wicked people were against the project, we were attacked on various occasions, the executive members lost their loved ones, while some got illed.”
He said they were attacked through “what we call ‘Ofa’ in yoruba.” ‘Ofa’ is a spiritual attack in Yoruba land.
Mr Samuel explained that his first child and son, Zion, was the first person that died. According to him, his child was hale and hearty without any trace of sickness even after he died on March 22, 2019.
“I lost my son, he was playing in the parlour, nothing happened to him, where he suddenly fell down, we rushed him to the hospital, and within one hour, he died, without any trace of sickness,” he explained bitterly.
Six days after his son’s demise, a chairman of one of the communities, Charity, Mr Dare, died after complaining of stomach ache.
According to Mr Samuel, Mr Dare’s wife was a very wealthy woman, however, she poisoned herself 7 months after her husband’s demise. Over a million of naira was found in her room after her death.
“This woman was at home one day when she called her children to bring cups to collect drinks, whereas it was a chemical. Her 14 year old girl alerted their neighbours, and they took the woman to her grandma’s house, at Iya Biodun, along Lepa road,” he said.
He further explained that she successfully poisoned herself at her mother’s house.
He said, “On getting there, she requested for drink, and someone was sent to get it for her , she complained that she wanted a chilled one, saying, she can go herself since it was just a stone’s throw from her place, she was allowed to go, little did they know she was with a chemical, she drank all of them instantly, and died.”
After Mr Dare’s demise, a new chairman was elected, Mr. Oderinde, who died a year after his predecessor’s demise.
This reporter learnt that what allegedly killed Mr Oderinde was a little cut he had in one of his legs.
“What killed him was just a small mark he saw on his leg, the mark looked like a cut, it was very serious as he was taken to his village for proper care. Unfortunately, he died there.”
On March 7, 2022, the wife of Ifeparapo JCDA secretary, Mr Adebisi, also died.
He explained that what killed Mr Adebisi’s wife was “something I can call common illness.”
He explained that his secretary called to inform that he wouldn’t be attending meetings, to be able to take care of his wife.
“The third day, he called to inform me about the death of his wife. I was shocked and at the same time scared. It was very serious.”
Speaking on other challenges the executives were facing, he mentioned that the association treasurer’s wife has been on the sick bed for over a year, as he claimed that the sickness had led to stroke.
He therefore said they could ‘boldly’ say all that happened was because the executives planned to bring light into the community.
He said, “I can tell you boldly that it is because of this issue, I have spiritual fathers that told me to warn my executives, stressing that some people in the community don’t want light.
“They wanted to kill me, I almost died thrice, I went to the toilet one day and I fell down, my wife cried for three hours before I woke up.”
He also explained that Mr Adebisi got involved in an accident which almost claimed his life, at Ijoko area of the state.
He also mentioned that the contractor, after six months of energizing the light, got blind, as he had been transferred to England for proper treatment.
“This is just little of what we faced, some can’t be revealed,” he lamented.
Mr Quadry, also explained that during that time, he had spiritual attacks that he had to visit a nearby native doctor.
He said, “during this period, I felt something moving around, inside me, this really affected me that it brought out bruises on my body. I just had to visit a native doctor for a solution.”
He also mentioned that insults and words of discouragement from people in the community almost got the executives discouraged .
“I Lost My Precious Gold”
When contacted, Mr Adebisi explained how he lost his wife, as he described his late wife as his precious gold.
According to him, it was on a Friday when his wife told him she wouldn’t be going to work as she was feeling tired. His wife was a civil servant.
“I asked her to relax at home if that was what she wanted, then I left for work. Around 12pm, she called to inform me that she had been receiving a drip.
“I felt uneasy immediately, and I quickly finished what I was doing, so I would get back home quickly. I work at the High court, Ikeja.”
He therefore explained that when he got home, the situation had become worse as his wife couldn’t stand up again. He had to carry her to the toilet and do some other things.
The illness didn’t improve, as he invited a doctor for treatment, till the day she died, Monday, March 7, 2022.
However, he explained that he believes that there’s spiritual power, but “I’m a Muslim, and I’ve been taught to believe that everything that happened in this life comes from Allah.”
Speaking on other challenges, Mr Samuel affirmed that it was true, as he explained that he had similar experience with the chairman, around 2020, when his wife was still alive.
According to him, there was a day, when he just finished eating and wanted to leave the dinning room for the sitting room, he slumped and didn’t wake up for over 30 minutes.
“My wife had been crying, when I woke up, I told her I was fine, then she asked me to tell her the last word I said, then I realized something had happened,” it was a tough one, he lamented.
“We Give NEPA N2000 Before Powering Our Community”
According to the chairman, the community pays the officials of the defunct National Electric Power Authority, NEPA, which is now Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company, IBEDC officials before getting light.
He explained that the power that was restored on January 1, 2023, was as a result of the payment he made to them.
“Whenever we need light, I call them and I pay a minimum of two thousand naira, before they restore it.
“On the day we are celebrating new year, I still had to call them before they gave us light.”
He therefore said that the officials give him many excuses for not giving the community electricity, whenever he asks what the problem was.
He said, “they would tell us Ifo mainline comes from Papa, and the energy given to them isn’t enough, their breaker is not up to what can supply Ifo.”
He explained that the power given to the Ifo headquarters is just 18 megawatts breaker, saying, they are supplying over 3000 megawatt.
He therefore said, “for them to use 18 megawatts for three thousand, they have to put off some areas, and put on some.
“Sometimes, they put it off for two weeks before it comes to our turn,” he added.
He also explained that the community has been promised to get prepaid meters, as they are yet to collect it.
In the same vein, he urged the government to look into the matter and “rescue” them.
…. How One Hour Light Per Month Wrecked Residents’ Business
Iya Aisha, mother of two, used to work as a fish seller in the community, as she owned her own cold room, right in front of her apartment.
Iya Aisha, who is a widow, was responsible for her kids’ responsibility alone.
She explained how she had to leave the fish selling job for hairdressing due to lack of electricity .
She said, “my husband had died long ago, I cared for my two kids alone, when I relocated to this community, though there was no light, but I had power to buy petrol for the generator, not until now that the petrol is high.
“I paid for light because I know how important it is to my business, but hardly do we see light once in a month. I had no choice than to start hairdressing ”
Also, a mineral seller, Mrs Badru, lamented how she had not been making sales due to not having chilled drinks.
According to her, she has never benefited from the light and she regrets paying for it.
“I regret paying for this light, we don’t get light on a daily basis, but we pay on a monthly basis, I just wasted my money.”
… “I regret Initiating this project”
Also, when asked, Mr Samuel said he regretted bringing up the idea of getting light to the community, as he said the sitiasion is not encouraging.
“Despite the challenges faced, despite the money spent, we get light for just one hour or two in a month.”
According to him, the Power Holding Company of Nigeria bill brought to the community stated that they should be enjoying electricity for six hours per day.
He therefore called on the government to intervene saying, “this is the responsibility of the government and not the citizens.”
…”We Deserve Minimum Of 12hrs Daily Electricity Supply”
According to the bill being paid by the residents, Mr Samuel explained that the communities deserve six hours electricity supply daily .
He mentioned that despite the efforts and loss of the community, what they get is not what they deserve.
He explained that the light being supplied is 33kv, and is capable of supplying them for 12 hrs daily.
Instead, he said that the community might not enjoy the electricity supply throughout a month, and sometimes, once or twice a month.
“We deserve at least a minimum of 12 hours light per day, but we use a maximum of two to three hours in a month,” he lamented.
…Carry Placards, Protest To Get What You Want, Lawyer Tells Community
A barrister, Alalafia Qudus, has urged the residents of Ifeparapo Joint CDA to get placards and protest, saying, that’s the only way a citizen can enforce social amenities objectives.
According to him, spending a lot of money on the project and not getting the number of electricity required does not give the citizens the right to sue the government.
He said this is backed up in the constitution under section 6c, paragraph C of the constitution.
He therefore advised that the only way to get their desired result is to inform the media, send written protest to the government or protest physically.
He said, “You can’t institute an action against the government for failure to give you the number of electricity you require, under Section 6c paragraph C of the constitution except in cases when you both signed a contract.”
“However, I’ll advise them to protest physically, perhaps, send a written protest to the executive governor of Ogun state.
“If yet, they saw no result, let them carry Placards, I’m aware of when people in Mowe, Ibafo that were clamouring for water, they carried placards to protest. Because that is the only means available for a citizen, who wants to enforce the social amenities objectives.”
He therefore urged the state government to act swiftly as he described the situation as a “very precarious situation.”
He said, “I can only plead to the government to be proactive, to be responsible and responsive, let them do the needful.”
… “TCN Now Supplies Less Than Five Megawatts, Reason For Electricity Instability”
Speaking anonymously, a source who is one of IBEDC top officials explained that the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN now supplies Ifo and it’s environment megawatt that is less than five .
According to the source, TCN used to supply the axis around 13 megawatt, however the required megawatt for Ifo is 40 megawatt.
He therefore lamented that there’s no how the customers would be satisfied as they have to off some parts to on some parts.
He said, “Ifo is under Sango, we get allocation from the Papalanto TCN transition station, but unfortunately the allocation we require from that axis, Ifo and its environment is around 40 megawatt, but what we are getting from TCN formerly was around 13 megawatts.
“As I speak to you, the allocation they have been giving us since last year around November last year when supplies depreciated is less than five megawatt.
“So there’s no how we will be able to satisfy all our customers, we have to ration the little supply, so that every nook and cranny will have at least a bit of supply on a daily basis.”
He therefore said the issue is beyond the IBEDC, saying its job is to only distribute.
He said, ” that is beyond the control of IBEDC, we are only distributing what we have, but unfortunately we don’t have control over the supply, because when transition is telling you, generation is down, then there is limitation to what they can give us and if you take more than what they give you. They will lock up the whole supply. So we have to manage the little that is being given to us.”
In the same vein, he added that to make the situation better, there should be improvement from generation to transition station, stressing that this would aid the supply of power.
He also added “we have embarked on the law of project, so that we will relieve most of the loads from Papalato, that some will come from Sango station while another part would be feeding from the Papalanto station.
“That is almost concluded, when these are concluded, definitely, there would be improvement in supply, but for now, it is beyond any distribution company control. It is affecting everybody throughout the country.”
“Wait For Government If You Want Free Meter”
Addressing the issue of fulfilling the promise of distributing meters to the residents, the source revealed that the federal government has not distributed the phase one meter, mentioning that 104,000 meters were distributed to about seven states, to share with their customers.
He said, “then secondly on the metering issue, yes, we promised most of our customers that we are going to give them meter when the federal government launches the national mass metering programs.
“And that programme, since late 2021 that they launched it, they started with zero, which IBEDC covering, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Kwara, Kogi Ekiti, part of Niger state, we got only 104 thousand meters, for the whole states, that’s about seven states, and the phase one they said we are going to launch, we’ve not gotten any meter, that is why we encourage everyone to buy meters and we install for them. Those ones are very available, but people saying they want free meters, they have to wait until the government provide that, so that we’ll give them.”
However, several attempt to contact the IBEDC Public Relations Officer Mr Ayo Bada to give comment proved abortive, as calls and texts were not responded to.
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