How Eko DisCo is sabotaging Buhari – By Dr Hassan Adeworan

February 15, 2021
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It appears that the federal authorities are oblivious that the terrible performance of such electricity distribution companies as Eko are a major contributor to the plummeting reputation of the Muhammadu Buhari administration. Their awful performance causes mass disaffection and disenchantment in Nigerian society, which, in turn, affects the assessment of the administration in the public imagination.

The temperature even at night in Lagos now is over 35 degrees centigrade. Millions of Nigerians on Lagos Island sleep without fans, let alone airconditioning systems. Within a few minutes, they are drenched in hot sweat. Small and medium firms, including hospitals and pharmacies, are doing poorly or packing up on account of the rising cost of self-power generation. So much money is spent not just on buying petrol and diesel to run electric power generating sets but also on maintaining them which is high because of the constant use. The regular use results in wear and tear and constant break breakdown. Users are forced to procure new ones much earlier than envisaged. There is, in one word, growing misery in the land, which comes with mass anger and sometimes violence.

 Given the fact that Lagos is Nigeria’s economic and social epicenter, Eko Electricity Distribution Company has been contributing significantly to Buhari’s deteriorating image in Lagos. The situation would have been worse but for the professional performance of the Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company which provides reasonable electric power to all parts of Lagos Mainland.

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Perhaps the craziest of things done by Eko DisCo is the decision to supply wealthy estates on Lagos Island, including Lekki Peninsula, up to 20 hours of power daily but provide service to the less wealthy ones for only two hours in two days. Estates like NICON, Cooperative Villas and Victoria Garden City (VGC) get a lot of supply because they pay a premium rate, that is, about three times what other estates pay, the so-called called willing buyer and willing seller system.

In other words, with the privatization of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) assets in November, 2013, electricity has become a commodity available only to the wealthiest in society on Lagos Island. There is no other place in the world where this kind of electricity apartheid is practised. Electricity is a universal good, needed critically by both the rich and the poor. To seclude one segment of society for whatever reason is a crime against humanity. It is just like saying that general hospitals owned by the government should treat only the wealthy but once in a while can afford to treat one or two not-so wealthy patients. Eko DisCo is in gross violation of the provisions of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (EPSRA) of 2005.

Eko DisCo may not know that it is practising what social scientists call structural violence. The colonial masters, for example, practised structural violence by creating Government Reserved Areas (GRAs) for themselves and provided these areas with social amenities while leaving other sections of cities and towns with nothing. This system created in the people the mentality of “we versus them”, which could not possibly makes for peace and stability. In South Africa, Johannesburg was designed and built as a modern city for whites while neighbouring Soweto was a terrible township for blacks whose duties were to serve the wealthy whites and work in mines as labourers. Structural violence, which is different from physical and psychological kinds of violence, was one major reason why apartheid South Africa could not experience peaceful co-existence for decades. Such a pity that Eko Disco is bringing back structural violence and apartheid decades after South Africa abandoned apartheid and its concomitants. 

It is amazing that Eko DisCo, owned 40% by the Federal Government, as in other DisCos and even power generation firms, should be so selective in providing an essential service to the Nigerian people. The reason for ensuring that the Federal Government retained up to 40% stake in each of the firms when the PHCN assets were being privatized was to prevent grave abuses like providing electricity to communities willing to pay three times higher than the rest and leaving the rest of society with no power. It is difficult to understand why the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the Ministry of Power have turned a blind eye to this act of severe injustice to the Nigerian people by a company substantially owned by the Nigerian people through the Federal Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MOFI).

Do NERC and the Ministry of Power realize that they are doing tremendous violence to the Buhari administration by allowing Eko DisCo to supply power to certain estates on Lagos Island for up to 20 hours daily but give electricity only once in two days for a mere two hours to other areas which are, of course, in the majority? They should wonder why Lekki and other parts of the Lagos Island, which were not used to participating in demonstrations against the government have now become the epicenter of protests against the government. The Lekki Tollgate has become a metaphor for protest against the federal authorities.

 Some people in the power sector are dozing on duty while the Nigerian people are suffering profoundly and the image of the Buhari administration is in steep decline. The Presidency must do something urgently and effectively to save itself from eternal infamy.

Dr Hassan Adeworan, a medical doctor & management consultant, sent in this article from First Unity Estate, Badore, Ajah, Lekki, Lagos.

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