BY RAYYANU BALA
Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) is among the 5 distribution companies registered by the federal government to take aspect of distribution of electricity in the country following unbundling of the now defunct National Electricity Power Authority (NEPA). Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) was saddled with the responsibility of distribution of electricity in five North-Central states namely, Kwara, Kogi, Niger, Nasarawa as well as federal capital Abuja.
Since AEDC took over distribution some 10 years ago, residents of Nasarawa state particularly Lafia the state capital, have never had it so bad. Despite their abysmal failure, residents of Lafia have never even for once taken to the streets to protest this glaring failure. The excuses often offered by AEDC regarding their inability to provide steady power to the residents were swallowed hook, line and sinker by the citizens. The excuses which convinced the people to give AEDC benefit of the doubt were that the Akwanga 130KVA line from which Lafia got its electricity supply from was grossly insufficient to cater to the growing demand of power in Lafia, as a result of which the distribution company was left with no option than to adopt load shedding formula. This formula has become entrenched in the psyche of both AEDC and Lafia residents. For decades, residents of Lafia were made to contend with either load shedding or no power at all; hence various means of generating power for the domestic and other uses were deviced.
So when in 2013, former governor, Umaru Tanko Al-makura started pursuing federal government on Akurba 330 KVA line, many people applauded his efforts and prayed for the success of the project. But since he was not from the ruling party, he met some obstacles on the way. The more he pressed for the award of the contract, the more he was pressed to decamp to the then ruling PDP at the federal level. Former Vice President Namadi Sambo who was then chairman of Independent Power Project, mounted serious pressures on former governor Al-makura to defect if really he needed the project to be awarded. Al-makura stood his ground and remained with his party, the CPC.
In 2015, when President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn-in, former governor Al-makura resumed his lobbying for the award of the 330 KVA line in Akurba and since he belonged to the ruling party, his requested did waste any time in getting approval. The federal executive council at one of its sitting unanimously approved the memo presented by the then Minister of Power, Raji Fashola on award of contract for the construction of 330KVA in Akurba.
Akurba 330 KVA line which contract was awarded in 2016 at the cost of nearly eight billion naira was commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari during his state visit to Nasarawa on February 24, 2022 is now becoming a trauma to the people of the state barely two months after its commissioning. The huge investment made by the federal government and with substantial support by the state government to see to the alleviation of the problem of power in Lafia is yielding no result since people are still experiencing their old ways of living- epileptic supply and in some cases total blackout, no thanks to the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC)
Nasarawa Eye newspaper in its edition of 29th March, 2022, captured vividly, the grief of the people of Lafia with regards to electricity. The lead story which was titled: “AEDC: From Jubilation to Lamentation” was well articulated, fashioned in a manner to bring out the sufferings the people are undergoing despite the new 330 KVA power substation.
Capturing the unfortunate mood of the residents of Lafia on epileptic supply of electricity in Lafia despite the availability of 330 KVA sub-station in Akurba, Nasarawa Eye noted that many residents that had set aside their generators are now retrieving them for repairs and use. Buttressing this position, 0ne generator repairer, Jude Eze, in an interview with Nasarawa Eye stressed that he is now witnessing a revamping of his business.
The Editor/ CEO of Nasarawa Eye who also double as lead columnist of the paper, Victoria N. Ikeano, in her column of same 29th March 2022 edition titled, ‘’AEDC, Lafia: The honeymoon is over?”, lamented how the joy of the residents of Lafia over Akurba substation turned to sadness soon after President Buhari commissioned the project. She stressed that “as it is the people are highly disappointed that such gigantic power project on which the masses pinned high hopes of a new, enriched life is apparently turning out to be a mirage” She then pose this question: “What could be the cause, Sabotage, Crass incompetence and inefficiency of the electricity authorities?
“Whatever it is, they should be made to aware that their actions/inactions are imperiling livelihoods and endangering lives. Nasarawa state residents deserve good life anchored on steady power supply” she concluded.
Yes, indeed, sabotage is the only answer or else how can one explain the huge investment made by the government to see to the improvement of lives of the people only for one company to begin to undermine these efforts. AEDC are in three states including Abuja but the stories there were quite different from ours.
Both the state government and critical stakeholders in Lafia must rise up to the occasion by doing the needful otherwise the efforts of both federal and state government on Akurba 330 KVA substation will come to naught.