By Udeme Akpan
The Chairman Senate Committee on Power, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, has recommended the Issele-Uku community of Delta State model of self-help adopted in regulating and mobilising residents to work hand in hand with BEDC Electricity Plc to resolve outage issue and get reconnected to the national grid, after seven years of being without electricity supply.
The Committee on Power which was on oversight visit to BEDC franchise area on Thursday, commended the self-help model adopted by residents, stressing that the community had through the self-help and collaboration with BEDC, showed other communities the way to follow. Issele-Uku was adopted as a model community in Delta to rate the operations of BEDC as a DISCO.
The lawmakers commended Issele-Uku for defying all odds to partner with the company in surmounting the numerous challenges in order to enjoy electricity and urged BEDC to be considerate with the community in the face of scarce electricity commodity, by assisting to absorb part of the cost incurred by the community to get electrified.
Abaribe, who was welcomed by the monarch of Issele-Uku, HRM Agbogidi Obi Nduka, affirmed that; “we are here to do what the law requires of us, which is oversight on the distribution companies, in this case the BEDC. Issele-Uku was chosen as a model, based on what the BEDC MD briefed us they went through as a community to get electrified.”
Expressing hope for a better Nigeria, Abaribe declared that the job of the committee was to review the state of power in respect to distribution companies (Discos), saying that there was a comprehensive discussion going on regarding the privatisation exercise between the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and the privatised companies.
“The stand of the committee is that privatisation in itself is not bad, but when you have agreement, all parties must keep to the terms of such agreement. The Federal Ministry of Power, National Economic Council and BPE are all working on this to ensure that decision to be taken over emerging issues connected with the privatisation will be in the best interest of all stakeholders,” he stated.
Speaking during the visit to Issele-Uku, the Managing Director/CEO of BEDC, Mrs. Funke Osibodu applauded the commitment of the community to ensuring that residents resume electricity consumption after over seven years of outage, adding that it was also a commendable feat by BEDC.
She averred that some of the sundry issues pointed out by the community for resolution were parts of the teething problems of the first phase in the electricity supply process, promising to resolve most of them by the first quarter of next year.
She stated that plans were in top gear to fully open shop in Issele-Uku with resident staff of BEDC covering the area, and promised to address some of the complaints made by the indigenes with a view to facilitating a synergy between the community and BEDC, to kick-start the next phase based on agreement.
The MD advised electricity consumers in the town to switch to energy saving bulbs in order to conserve power. As a token from her, she donated some cartons of energy saving bulbs to the community.
Speaking during a press briefing in respect of the visit, the Chairman Senate Committee on Power said with what they saw at the forum, it was evident that the consumers knew their rights, urging BEDC to ensure it facilitates their understanding of process and procedures to follow in laying complaints on service delivery.
Speaking during a Customer Forum organised at the instance of the Senate Committee, on the issue of low power supply and outage, Osibodu said power supply is a function of the value chain process involving the generation companies, Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), and the Discos, appealing to the Senate Committee to assist in ensuring that budgets earmarked for TCN were passed and made available to enable the TCN repair or replace some of its faulty transformers.
“When gas is not available generation is affected, while TCN constraints affect its ability to transmit power to discos who are the interface with customers. Customers should realise that progress in service delivery is gradual. If the existing TCN constraints can be resolved BEDC will be able to distribute more power to customers in its franchise areas,” the CEO asserted.
The Senate Committee Chairman was accompanied during the oversight visit to BEDC by Senators James Manager from Delta State, Suleiman Hunkuyi, Ahmed Ogenbe and Abdullahi Sabi, and Dr. Moses Arigu of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).