By Adeola Aderounmu
The Festac Town Resident Association (FTRA) has sent out a circular in which the body instructed residents of Festac Town not to pay the NEPA/PHCN* bills starting from May 2008. The reasons stated for this line of action are as follows:
* Lack of electric meter reading by NEPA
* Extortion through estimated coded and crazy bills
* Epileptic power supply
* Refusal of NEPA to install pre-paid meter to Festac Town Residents
* Failure of Festac Town NEPA District Business Manager to improve on the power supply and to facilitate the installation of pre-paid meter to Festac Town Residents as promised by him
* Failure of NEPA to respond to the letter written by the Resident Association to Eko Zone Chief Operation Officer for dialogue
The Resident Association thereby advised Festac Town Resident not to pay NEPA bills with effect from May 2008 until further notice.
The problem of power supply in Nigeria is now a national embarrassment. Nigeria generates exceedingly less power that she needs. Almost every home and business in Nigeria now thrives on the use of own power generators and various types of loud machines contributing endlessly to both noise and air pollution. In a nut shell, the power situation in Nigeria is a monumental disaster.
Rather than finding ways to ameliorate the sufferings of the masses in this area of gross social neglect, successive (and disruptive) regimes in Nigeria have done almost nothing in the positive direction to take the bull by the horns. Instead, the power sector in Nigeria has prevailed as one of the most corruption-ridden segments of the society.
One year after Umaru was illegitimately bundled to the realm of political power, the electric power situation has gone from worse to worst. The scenario clearly indicates that Umaru and his gangs have no idea of what the electric power sector in Nigerian entails. Indeed, almost 365 days since this wrong government emerged, there are no clear indications of its vision or mission.
Festac Town residents are not alone in this suffering; all the masses in Nigeria are experiencing similar fate. Endless blackouts and extreme frustration is the order of the day. The neglect in the power sector affects us at home and it also plays a significant role in the unemployment situation.
In present day Festac Town, it seems that the availability of electric power is almost entirely reduced to personal generators. This means that the power supply from NEPA is virtually non-existent. It is true that cockroaches now thrive in units that are supposed to serve as refrigerators and freezers. It also cost more than N6 000 per month to procure fuel to run your power generating unit if you live in a 2-bedroom flat.
It is not clear if this struggle by the FTRA will succeed or not. In Nigeria the masses have been rendered powerless and voiceless. Indeed, they always end up suffering more in the end than at the beginning of the struggle. In a persistent fashion, one can pessimistically predict that in the end, NEPA will make Festac residents to crawl on their knees. It always happens like that at the individual level.
It is not a secret that salaries of NEPA workers are paid from the estimated and crooked bills that they extort from their fellow Nigerians. But if all the residents of Festac (the common people that is) find a common rhythm this time and if everyone plays to the tune/ dictate of the Residents’ Association, there might just be a chance to change the pattern. A change must always begin from somewhere or someone.
But how long can the people go without paying bills? Would they not end up accumulating unpaid bills in the end? If the power situation improves, how will reconciliation of the billing system and the severed relationship with the district NEPA be mended?
I still have hope in Nigeria but I have a problem on whom to address my suggestions. Almost all the politicians in Nigerian got to power through crooked means and they remain unaccountable to the people. Many of them are very busy every weekend jumping from one wedding to another. Several of them simply do not comprehend what serving the people entails. They preferred to be served. In general, governance in Nigeria remains at a level simply devoid of purpose.
A few days ago, some Nigerians were almost in tears as they expressed fears and anxiety over the announcement by the Umaru led government that the tariff on electricity will be increased. As one citizen puts it, “we are paying for electricity that we don’t use and still they want to increase the tariff, it is wickedness”. Indeed, it is only a wicked and a heartless government that will increase the cost of what is not available!
*The use of NEPA instead of PHCN is deliberate.
Acknowledgement: Useful information from Abayomi Efosa Omoruyi.
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