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SPECIAL REPORT: Residents Unite To Power 18 Communities After Living In Darkness For Decades

Fawaz Adebisi 

In 2023, almost 92 million Nigerians did not have access to grid electricity, this constitutes 43% of Nigeria’s population. Globally, this makes Nigeria the country with the largest energy access deficit in the world. 

Lack of electricity is one major problem Nigeria is battling with, and this affects, mostly, people living in rural and underserved parts of the country.

However, although it’s the government’s responsibility, some individuals in the nation strive to find solutions to their problems, a typical example is the people of Ifelodun Joint Community Development Association, which comprises 18 communities, in Ifo Local Government, Ogun State.

For over a decade, approximately one million residents in these 18 communities, including Ifelodun Agbare CDA, Irede Agbare CDA, Olorunlasiwaju Agbare CDA, Ireakari Agbare CDA, among others, lived in total darkness, without intervention from the state government.

“We wrote several letters to the state government  through the local council, but we were always put in suspense,” Mr Oluwole Samuel, the chairman of the Ifeparapo JCDA stressed.

Other communities under Ifeparapo JCDA  include; Ifesokan Agbare CDA, Charity CDA, Heritage Agbare CDA, Temidire CDA, Irepodun Ferowa CDA, Itesiwaju Ferowa CDA, Glorious Ferowa CDA, Anifiwose Agbagi CDA, Ifetedo Agbare CDA, Itesiwaju Agbagi CDA, Ifelodun Agbagi CDA, Irebami Agbagi CDA, Olorunsogo Phase 1 CDA and Olorunsogo Phase 2 CDA.

Stressing the challenges residents faced during the period of darkness, Mr Samuel said many had to get themselves a generator to keep their business moving and satisfy their needs.

In his words, people left the community for other neighboring communities where there’s electricity, adding that that has been the situation for over a decade.

Speaking with random people in the Irepodun community, some people have not enjoyed electricity for the past 15 years as they have been using their generators to supply electricity to their homes.

“We wrote several letters to the state government  through the local council, but we were always put in suspense,” Mr Oluwole Samuel, the chairman of the Ifeparapo JCDA stressed.

Other communities under Ifeparapo JCDA  include; Ifesokan Agbare CDA, Charity CDA, Heritage Agbare CDA, Temidire CDA, Irepodun Ferowa CDA, Itesiwaju Ferowa CDA, Glorious Ferowa CDA, Anifiwose Agbagi CDA, Ifetedo Agbare CDA, Itesiwaju Agbagi CDA, Ifelodun Agbagi CDA, Irebami Agbagi CDA, Olorunsogo Phase 1 CDA and Olorunsogo Phase 2 CDA.

Stressing the challenges residents faced during the period of darkness, Mr Samuel said many had to get themselves a generator to keep their business moving and satisfy their needs.

In his words, people left the community for other neighboring communities where there’s electricity, adding that that has been the situation for over a decade.

Speaking with random people in the Irepodun community, some people have not enjoyed electricity for the past 15 years as they have been using their generators to supply electricity to their homes.

 

… I almost Got My  Family Killed With Generator Fumes

 

“On many occasions, I almost got my family killed with generator fumes,” a man who identified himself as Lawayi recounted.

 

According to Lawayi, he and his family live in a two room apartment, and whenever it’s dusk, he puts his generator on, at the back of his house.

 

However, he explained that the smoke coming out from his generator is always exuberant, as he is always forced to put it off because of his kids.

 

He said, “I service my generator every week, the money I spend on it is enough to get electricity to my home, but I couldn’t.

 

“My generator had almost killed all of us in the family. 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. Few minutes later, I woke up to see my children coughing, smoke everywhere, they could not talk smoothly, I just had to rush out, to turn off the generator “

 

Also, Mr Taiwo Oladotun, who is known as Angaba, also shared how his wife 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 too smoky.” 

 

With no electricity, daily life was an arduous ordeal as businesses could not thrive in these communities. Residents, who depend solely on generators, could not, also, use electronics at home.

 

However, in 2021, the once area highly denominated with darkness became a bustling place for businesses to thrive, compelling more people to stay. This reporter writes on how residents in these communities united to fight darkness, powering 18 communities in the state singlehandedly without the intervention of the government.

 

“We Spent Over N16 Million To Power Communities”

 

According to the chairman, having faced lots of challenges, residents in these communities came together to kick-start the project in 2015.

 

Speaking with Mr Quadry Isiaka, the financial secretary of Ifeparapo JCDA, he revealed that over N16m was spent on the project, within 5 years, from 2015 to 2020.

 

He said, “We couldn’t continue like that, we had to get funds to kick-start the project and bring light to this area, so we spent over N16,762,000 to power the communities.”

 

Corroborating his claim, the chairman of  Ifeparapo JCDA said many of the items used kept inflating due to low funds to get the items at once.

 

“The transformer was supposed to be sold at N2m.050 but due to low payment, it increased. We used 37 poles in total, each pole cost 30,000, and in total, we spent N1.110m on the pole alone,” Mr Oluwole said.

 

In the same vein, the Fin. Sec. explained that the Up-raisal cable used were two, as one cost N300,000 while the other cost N480,000.

 

Going further, the Feeder pillars used cost N150,000 as High tension wire used cost N5.850m, adding that the low tension poles used were 4, as each of them cost N25,000, making the total of N100,000.

 

Money spent on low tension wire for the street is a total of N4.032m as each cost N1.008m while 4 was purchased.

 

Also, the casting and fencing of the transformer base cost N220,000, as the labor paid to the contractor cost N1.85m. The totalling miscellaneous fee was 480,000, Mr Quadry explained.

 

“Neighbouring Communities Believed It Was A Government Project”

 

The secretary of the Ifeparapo JCDA, Mr Adebisi Sulaimon, while citing challenges they faced after accomplishing the project, said some neighboring communities stood against them, wanting to connect to the light illegally, without the community’s consent.

 

According to him, they believed the project was sponsored by the state government and they had the right to it, adding that one of the agitating communities went ahead to report them to, Ibadan Electronic Distribution Company, IBEDC in Ibadan.

 

“But we’ve foreseen this, and we had taken measures beforehand. We had written to IBEDC and the police command in the Local Government, to avoid problems in the future. 

 

“After completing the project, some chairmen and residents of neighboring communities started agitating, 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,  so they later came back home to settle with us,” Mr Adebisi said.

 

It solved part of our problems — Residents

 

 

Mrs Zainab Balogun, popularly known as Iya Aisha, also a mother of two, shared how the development helped her business as a fish seller.

 

According to her, she used to power her fridge with a generator, “and I buy petrol every blessed day.”

 

“The new development reduced my stress partially and I only have to put my generator on once in a while,” she said.

 

However, she lamented the irregularity of power supply in the community.

 

“It’s a good one, but we’re not enjoying it, we only get light thrice or four times in a month, and by the end of the month, we’ll pay our bills in full,” she lamented.

 

She therefore asked the government to help increase power supply to the area.

 

Similarly, Mr. Badru Ayinde, who sells drinks, shared his challenges on how the unreliable power supply affected his sales. 

 

“I love the development, infact, it has helped us gain more people to the community,  but we lack adequate power supply,” he said.

 

However, amidst his concerns, he remained optimistic about the recent developments.

 

“While the inconsistency in power supply has impacted my business negatively, I’m hopeful for positive changes,” Mr. Badru remarked.

 

“We Regret Embarking On This Project”

 

Despite the significant investment and effort, Mr Oluwole expressed regret over the project’s outcome, citing insufficient electricity supply and unmet expectations.

 

“We borrowed money from banks, and other entrepreneurs to fund the project, every house was asked to pay N10,000, infact, we had the money increased to N30,000 per house.

 

“Yet, the money wasn’t enough, having spent so much, we were weak, residents started nagging. So we retracted and stopped the project, living in darkness for another 3 years,” the chairman said.

 

The project, finally completed in 2020,  aimed at powering the communities for at least 12 hrs/day failed the residents ‘woefully’.

 

“This is the responsibility of the government, but we took it up, yet, we couldn’t get what we wanted,” Mr Oluwole lamented.

 

He therefore called on the government to intervene adding that “we deserve at least a minimum of 12 hrs light per day, but we use a maximum of 2 to 3 hrs in a month.

 

… Lawyer Commends Communities, Urges Gov’t To Act Swiftly

 

A practicing lawyer, Alalafia Qudus commended the communities for their teamwork in achieving their goal, however he said no legal action can be taken against the government for not giving them adequate electricity.

 

” 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,” he said

 

According to him, though it’s the government’s responsibility to provide social amenities, they can’t be punished if they don’t.

 

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 also urged the state government to act swiftly as he described the situation as a “very precarious situation.”

 

“I can only plead to the government to be proactive, to be responsible and responsive, let them do the needful,” he said.

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