By Martin Opara
A source in the Imo House of Assembly (IMHA) Owerri, has revealed how the Imo state government, through the IMHA, conspired with Chief Emeka Offor, the facilitator and assumed arrow head of the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company, (EEDC), to extort electricity consumers by striking a deal with the management.
The source also revealed that sometime early this year, the Imo State governor had through the House of Assembly, threatened to sack EEDC in Imo State. On the strength of this orchestrated threat, the Imo house of assembly, in the guise of giving the electricity distribution company fair hearing, invited them to come and answer to the numerous allegations against them. EEDC, represented by one of the management staff, a white man appeared on the floor of the hallowed chambers. According to the source, “after the question and answer series, nothing has been said or heard of the disturbing allegations against EEDC till date, as the legislators have abandoned the investigation.”
Continuing, the source also hinted that EEDC sacked all the core professionals the company inherited from NEPA and Power Holding Company of Nigerian (PHCN) and then employed road side technicians and cheap labourers, whom they now pay as little as N30,000 monthly, hence, there are presently, countless recurring and casualties, arising from ignorance, quackery and ineptitude. It was also gathered that Geometrics was the first electricity distribution company that was licensed to operate, but was frustrated and schemed out because the then Senate President, Ken Nnamani a stalwart of the All Progressives Congress, also a top member of the APC is a major stakeholder in EEDC.
As a ploy to scheme out Geometrics, the company was told to concentrate on generation and forget about distribution, a condition the company was not satisfied with. The contest between Geometrics and EEDC is said to still be on. But Geometrics is said to be not only competent to generate and distribute electricity but has the ample right to do so.
A legislator in IMHA who spoke to our reporter on condition of anonymity said when reports of the unwholesome activities of EEDC as regards outrageous bills, epileptic power supply, non availability of meters, and charging communities money before energizing transformers they bought and installed through communal effort, which they turn around to claim ownership of came up, the honourable members of the house, swung into action and threatened to sack EEDC from the state. “To our greatest surprise, Emeka Offor and Senator Ken Nnamani ran to the Governor and struck a deal, with him and the agitation for the sack of EEDC cost steam and we had to abandon the agitation.”
Most people who commented on the issue are worried that the legislators abandoned such agitation that is supposed to be in the interest of Imolites, when all the grounds that prompted the agitation in the first place are still in place and have even become worse. To further give credence to the romance, Chief Emeka Offor was later appointed Chairman of Imo State Polytechnic’s governing council against all odds, replacing Chief Charles Amadi (Chavon).
They recalled that EEDC, at a point told the legislators that they had acquired over 200 meters for distribution to the public, “but till date, the meters are yet to be distributed. And the legislators are keeping quiet. The bills have become outrageously high, that a residential flat in New Owerri and World Bank axis now pays between eight twelve thousand naira monthly.
When contacted at the EEDC office in New Owerri, a lady in the customer care unit, who simply identified herself as Ifeoma, said the electricity bills are based on consumption, while another staff who identified himself as a feeder man, but refused to give his name, said, “what our ogas do is to work out the percentage we are supposed to give to the Imo state Governor as agreed, and the amount we will remit to EEDC headquarters in Enugu and build all these into the monthly bills for the consumers to pay. For instance, assuming N120 million is for 50MW, the amount is shared among the number of flats in the area, whether they enjoyed electricity for the period or not.”
Most residents of World Bank and New Owerri are threatening to protest the extortionist and exploitative action of EEDC.
When contacted, the state publicity secretary of OurMumudondo, Comrade Anele Otunba, described the development as unfortunate, stressing that the state chapter of the organization will meet very soon to deliberate on the issue and possibly hold a sit out, in front of the EEDC office in New Owerri to drive home their point. When also contacted for comment, EEDC’s head of communication, Emeka Eze directed our reporter to the customer care unit, without addressing the extortion, exploitation and monumental fraud EEDC now represents in Imo State.
Keen observer of the happenings in the electricity sector is wondering why the Imo state House of Assembly cannot firmly exercise their oversight functions in the interest of the people, if the executive has compromised. “Must the legislature also compromise?
Similarly, the House committee Chairman on Information of Imo State House of Assembly, Barr. Kenedy Ibe said, the House was wrong in the first instance to wade into the complaints of electricity consumers. According to him, they have no such powers which was why they suddenly abandoned the issues.