The Ibusa community, commonly pronounced as ‘Ibuzo’ is a town in Delta State, Nigeria, with an estimated population of 566,310 people (2009 census). The densely populated town shares boundaries with the capital of the State, Asaba and is strategically located around very busy roads. Ibusa is commonly known for its rich heritage of crop and fish farming and most recently, also known for the power drought that its residents have suffered for over 7 years.
The community which is under the BEDC franchise areas has been thrown into darkness for years, culminating in the development of various conspiracy theories as to the reason for the outage. The residents of Ibusa have over time decried the power outage, constantly lamenting its negative effects on their lifestyle.
In a conversation with a Spark Media reporter, a community councillor, Comrade Duko compared how industrial Ibusa used to be in years past to the current situation.
“Ibusa was industrial in the sense that, then we had a paint factory, a pharmacitical company, a couple of hotels that were running well with light, we had welders that depend on electricity.
“The pharmaceutical company should be about the only one of these companies still standing now.” He said.
He also talked about the power drought resulting in a sharp rise in cost of living in the town.
“Things are getting very expensive. You get one pure water now for 15 naira.
“There’s no house in Ibusa that doesn’t spend up to 20,000 naira on fuel every month.” He added.
When further asked about the reasons behind the power outage, Comrade Duko cited the excuse that was given to them before the privatisation of the power sector by NEPA;
“The reason they gave then was, most of the polls were fallen and transformers were outdated.”
A former youth leader in the community, Elder Anene Chibue, said that the power outage was blamed on the fact that the town could not meet the revenue target of the power company (then NEPA) which led to them concentrating the power supply on the state capital and other major cities.
Elder Anene also told Spark Media that as at December 2015, a contract was awarded by the state government to Kainene Olisa services for the rehabilitation of the electricity network of the Ibusa town. After which, electricity was restored, only for them to be plunged back into darkness again after two months. This happened, not surprisingly, because the residents didn’t pay their electricity bills.
When asked why the residents of Ibusa didn’t pay their bills after consuming electricity for two months, the elder said;
“They complained that they were overbilled. The bills were high for the fact that BEDC charged bills for only 10 transformers while 23 transformers were working
“They agreed initially to power 10 transformers out of 48. But my own was to service all the networks. As i was servicing, people were connecting.
“And so BEDC billed, based on the 10 transformers that they agreed. And that made the bill to be high.”
It can be argued that the Ibusa community situation is just a case of misunderstanding and poor communication but the truth is, there is no justifiable reason why such a population should be starved of such a basic human need for this long. It is sad, however, that the Ibusa community is not the only community suffering from this epidemic.
All stakeholders in the power sector must realise that irrespective of the challenges facing the sector, there remains an inherent duty to provide accessible electricity to every Nigerian. This is by no means an easy task but it is the task these industry players are faced with and one in which they must ultimately be judged by. We can only hope that the Ibusa community remains an odd exception and not the norm.