The Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) had earlier promised the Ondo State Government on the reconnection of some communities in Ondo South Senatorial district by the end of December 2017. This assurance was made after weeks of negotiation between BEDC and the State Government on the issue of reconnecting Ode-Aye and surrounding communities.
The State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, had directed the Special Adviser on Public Utilities, Engr. Tunji Ariyomo, to liaise with the distribution company to ensure that the people of Ondo South are reconnected. Prior to this, several meetings between the communities and BEDC, as well as intervention by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) ended in futility.
In November, BEDC gave firm assurances through its Chief State Head for Ondo and Ektii States, Mrs. Olakunbi Labiyi that the company would ensure that Ode-Aye is reconnected by December regardless of the payment dispute between the company and the communities, so that the people could celebrate the yuletide with electricity.
Labiyi also spoke on the extension of reconnection schedule to Okitipupa. She noted that there is a major distribution constrains in Okitipupa and sought for the assistance of the state government. In this regard the Ondo State Electricity Board (OSEB) at the parley guaranteed the Benin Disco team that if it fulfilled its promise on Ode-Aye, they would get government to intervene in extending the rehabilitation works to Okitipupa.
Mr. Femi Ayejusunle, a native of Irele who attended the parley at the premises of the OSEB, stated that;
“the attitude of the Disco is shocking. If you give your word, it should be your bond. I was there when their leader (Labiyi) promised that Ode-Aye would have light by December. In fact, she made it sound like early December. It was the Special Adviser that said it should be put at the end of December to give the Disco more time. She said it was a goodwill gesture that had nothing to do with the disputed money”, he added.
One of the monarchs in the affected senatorial district and the current Acting Secretary of the Office of Public Utilities expressed surprise but advised that the people should not jump into any conclusion yet.
”I want us to give Mrs. Labiyi and the rest of the Benin Disco team the benefit of the doubt. I have placed calls to her phone to formally ascertain the progress of work,” Princess Abike Bayo-Ilawole said.
Reacting, Engr. Ariyomo said he was hopeful that the Disco would keep its words even if slightly delayed stating that challenges are normal but the ultimate goal is that this community and others must be connected to the national grid.