When will YEDC start behaving like a corporate entity in Borno by Muhammad M. Ali


BY MUHAMMAD M. ALI, MARCH 23, 2024 | 10:58 PM

Borno state has gone through a lot because of the Boko Haram crisis. There were times when people's only concern was to survive the next day even on an empty stomach. Some locked themselves up for days without seeing their houses’ premises. Many completely abandoned their homes in search of safety and respite. It was only recently that things began to normalize; people started thinking about the need for food and even freedom, out of concerns like roadblocks and several security checks within the expanse of the city. It was not long before the community began to seek basic amenities, especially electricity, as that alone means a lot for accessing other basic amenities like water and enabling effective small and medium enterprises for survival.

Several attempts to fix the electricity transmission line that connects the state with the national grid have been sabotaged by the activities of insurgents. However, succor finally came after Former President Muhammad Buhari facilitated a Gas Power Plant project for the state metropolis to rejuvenate economic activities in the community after more than a decade of destruction by Boko Haram insurgents.

Before this intervention by the former president, there was a time when Maiduguri, the capital of the state, had gone close to 2 years in total blackout. This explains why when the power plant started operation just about six months ago, citizens were so happy - suffice it to say that was the time Maiduguri people felt Buhari's government had really touched their lives.

It was a multi-billion-Naira project, with the capacity to generate 50MW, according to analysis, way above the average consumption of the metropolis. The expectation was that other areas outskirts of the metropolis would also benefit from the excess.

The plant is ran by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPC Ltd in partnership with the China Machinery Engineering Company (CMEC) and General Electric (GE). Yola Electricity Distribution Company (YEDC) is in charge of distribution. In the last couple of weeks, the plant stopped working due to software problems. Though the light has been fixed, distribution has remained on and off - some areas will run for days without electricity, while others enjoy it as if it were from their own generators. This unfair treatment is happening at a time when the community needs the light the most to break their fasting with something cold. The multiplier effect of this irregular distribution of light has resulted in skyrocketing prices of water (including ice blocks) and other service businesses.

Amid all these sufferings, there is one uncultured attitude of YEDC that baffles me the most.

Because most parts of the metropolis are yet to be metered, YEDC is very good at bringing monthly bills but does not know how to communicate when their supply chain develops problems. Eighty percent (80%) of those incidents would remain unknown until community members mount pressure through media organizations before the reason for a collapse or fault would be communicated, sometimes not even through a corporate statement from the company.

When the gas plant developed software problems, citizens had to wait for over two weeks before YERWA EXPRESS NEWS contacted the management. They simply said it was a software problem. Some electricity companies in other areas of the country do communicate regularly with their customers. My question is, does YEDC not have a communication unit in the Maiduguri branch, or have they been derelicting their responsibility?

We were told that the customer is a king and should always be treated as such. Bahaushe says "ance basa laifi," so why then is our situation different? Is it that YEDC is no longer getting any profit from us? I doubt if this is the case because if the company is not making a profit, it would not be found for overcharging an amount close to N500 million. Or is it that YEDC is no longer a private company? Or is it that YEDC is taking advantage of Maiduguri people who have gone through a lot, almost not to bother with what is their right and what is not? Or lastly, are we left to continue to believe that the alleged shoddy deal between the company managers in Maiduguri and ice makers to deliberately disconnect people to make patronage for the ice makers is true? Which one is it? Ajabba! The Turanci has finished.

But Maiduguri people await your answers, especially those in Pompomari Housing Estate, who are now in their fifth day without light and nobody has said anything yet.

Muhammad M. Ali, an unrepentant pan-African, writes from Maiduguri.

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