By Nefisetu Yakubu
A pressure group, Benin Indigenous People Assembly (BIPA) on Wednesday said it supported Gov. Godwin Obaseki ‘s call for the immediate withdrawal of the operating licence of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC).
The group expressed its support in a statement signed by the Chairman, Mr West Idahosa and the Secretary, Orobosa Omo-Ojo, and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Benin.
It said that BEDC lacked the capacity to improve power supply in the state and urged the Federal Government and its regulatory bodies to promptly withdraw the license.
The group said that government could, at least, refuse to renew the license when it expired.
”This is the only way to prevent the present battle between the people of Edo and the BEDC from deteriorating into anarchy,” the group said.
It however dismissed the claims by the BEDC and other electricity bodies that the Edo enjoyed the lion share of what the company got from the national grid.
”The reality on ground indicates that BEDC has no capacity to distribute the so-called 9 per cent of power allocated to Edo State.
”What is happening is an uneconomical wastage of energy due to poor and inadequate distribution system, obsolete networks and very old power transformers.
”Despite the abysmal service by BEDC, the company has continued to punish its customers with arbitrary billings, even without consumption.
“In the circumstances, we support the call by Gov. Obaseki, for the sack of BEDC, because they have abandoned their statutory mandate to provide electricity in the state,” the group said.
NAN reports that apart from the governor, civil society groups, under the aegis of Edo Civil Society Organisations, has dragged the company to court, seeking the withdrawal of its licence.
When contacted, Tayo Adekunle, the BEDC Corporate Affairs Manager said the current power crisis in the state was temporary.
Adekunle gave the assurance that the management was doing everything possible to ensure adequate power supply in the state.
He urged the people to exercise patience, adding that the company was employing other avenues to ensure adequate power supply.
“BEDC boss is working assiduously to resolve all challenges with a view to improving power availability to the affected areas in the state and all states under its jurisdiction,” he said.
NAN recalls that Obaseki recently walked out the Managing Director of BEDC, Mrs Funke Osibodu, from his office, during the visit by the House of Representatives Committee on Power to the governor.