It is now close to two decades that the Southern hemisphere of Ondo and its beloved people have been living in perpetual darkness due to the mass disconnections of the whole district by the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC). The social, economic, and moral growth an development of our people are now in obvious dissaray. There have been efforts to get BEDC to do the needful even by politicians but the electricity distributor is hell bent to keep over three million people in darkness.
Mr President, I read an article of yours in the Financial Times and noted the conclusions admitting that there is need for jobs, railways, and industry generally to defeat terrorism in Africa. Let me ask, can there be industry in Ondo South where the people have been living in darkness for about 15 years?!
President Buhari should help give an express order to the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) to immediately restore electricity back to Ondo South. This is not too much to ask by a people that once housed the best of industries like the Oluwa Glass; Araromi Rubber Estate, Okitipupa Oil Palm, and some others. These industries provided thousands of jobs and helped to relieve both the economic and security burdens of the country as at when they were operating. If there are efforts to rebuild and advance these moribund industries, how possible would such efforts be without electricity?
To also imagine that Ondo South also houses the Omotosho Power Plant that has been a major generating plant for customers of BEDC and has been so functional while the host people are gnashing their teeths in darkness, calls justice to questioning!
I will keep this letter as short as possible on the forgoing but must make it clear that leadership is a big responsibility that leans every seriously on mutual justice and altruistic respect for the lives of people, no matter where they are located. All Nigerians are supposed to be citizens that must be catered for as a duty of government. This is why we are asking President Muhammadu Buhari whether the Ondo South people are still considered citizens? Or is it the Lagos-Benin-Ore Express Way that is only important to the Federal government? Why is it that the Babatunde Fashola-led Ministry of Power has been silent on the injustice done to Ondo South for the past years. How does the presidency want to ensure that there is real security around that express way when the host communities do not have electricity and in effect has been living on a crippled economy for the past 15 years?!
We will keep asking questions. And we want to remind the government that our people have been taking actions but get ignored time an again. We want to remind all government agencies of the radical upheavals of August 2018 when people rose in protests in Ore, Okitipupa, and Igbokoda. These actions were covered in the whole media and got global attentions. This precipitated the Town Hall Meetings by the Ondo State Government which promised heaven and earth. Alas, our people are still languishing in darkness.
Mr President, this letter is just a reminder. But history notes that a people is being neglected while it’s being extorted in billions. Ondo. South is an oil producing district that is very significant to the economic balancing of this country. It is injustice and insensitive to keep such a people in decades of grind poverty and insecurity through the conspicuous consumption maltreatment of a service provider as the BEDC. We need President Buhari to ask National Electricity Regulations Commission (NERC) and the ministry of Power; is the BEDC more powerful than the regulatory agencies over even the presidency? And can’t another service provider take over Ondo South instead?
We will be happy if this injustice against Ondo South is corrected immediately. This is a subtle appeal. The absence of electricity in Ondo South is real threats to the livelihood of Apoi, Ilaje, Ikale, Odigbo, and Ijaw/Arogbo people. These are nations that have contributed in no small measure to what is Nigeria today. The history of the civil war is ajar without the Ore battles. A people as exposed as Ondo South should not be so neglected by both state and federal government. History will note if your presidency, as your envisioned on ending on good notes, would correct the injustice against us and restore our electricity fully and unconditionally very soon!
Kolade Benson Omoyeni, a Global Development enthusiast, writes from Sabome, Ilaje/Ese-Odo Local Government, Ondo State.