By Linus Aleke
Darkness has continued to envelop a section of the Kabayi community, in the Karu local government area of Nasarawa State, a border town with Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja due to the absence of public power supply for over two months and no remedy in sight.
ThisNigeria gathered that the community’s descent into darkness started on Sunday 10 April 2022, while the Christian faithful were in their various Churches marking the triumphant entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem.
Triumphant entry is an annual Christian commemoration of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, popularly known as, “Palm Sunday”.
Unfortunately, while they were dancing and worshipping God in their various Churches, the central transformer situated in front of Innovative Heritage Academy, Kabyi, supplying electricity to the area, exploded and burnt down to rubble.
ThisNigeria further learnt that since the unfortunate inferno, whose immediate and remote cause, remains a mystery, the community had been groping in the dark, while the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC), which supplies power to the area had continued to stare at the situation with blind eyes and pay deaf ears to cry and complaints of residents of the area.
The Nasarawa State Government and the Karu local government areas, under whose jurisdiction the community falls are also indifferent to the suffering condition of the people of the area.
A resident of the area, Mr. Peter Pam, who spoke to our correspondent exclusively, said that life has become hellish in the area since the transformer got burnt.
According to him, “the climatic conditions here are not palatable. Though the power supply in this community had always been epileptic, sometimes they bring it at night and one can at least put on a fan or air conditioner to ward off the extreme weather conditions. The heat here is too much, especially at night.
This explains why children in this environment are prone to all manner of preventable diseases, even in the absence of public health care facilities, since the transformer is packed up.
“It is over two months that we have been in this darkness. You cannot get used to darkness no matter how hard you try. We are now like a cursed community, we don’t have any social amenities that presuppose the fact that we are a society governed by constituted authorities. No public water supply, no primary health centre, no access roads, no public schools, and now we have been left in the abyss of darkness again.
“The only time we see government presence here is when local government revenue officers in the company of arm-wielding officers and men of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), and other security agencies storm the area to enforce payment of revenue on private business owners.
“The state and local government area will bring armed and fierce-looking law enforcement agents to the area to enforce payment of revenue but will not deploy these same resources to the area to make residents, especially those doing business feel the impact of government in the area. This thing is a two-way thing, rob my back and I rub your back. The government is supposed to invest part of the revenue collected in the area for the development of the community.
“Government does not exist to exploit the people but that is what Nasarawa State government is doing in this obscured part of the state. They compel the people to pay taxes but abdicate their responsibility of creating a conducive environment for businesses to thrive or providing social basic amenities for the people.
“This is the fallout of the faulty leadership recruitment process at all levels of government in Nigeria. What magic do you expect from a process that allows charlatans to buy their way into the position of authority?
“They forget that if the government creates a good environment for businesses to thrive, more businesses will spring up, and that means more revenue for the government. But the reverse is the case in this part of the world as the government is the one strangulating business with unfavourable policies and multiple taxations.”
Reinforcing the above lamentations, Mrs. Mary Oche told ThisNigeria that since the transformer got burnt, she spends between N150 to N300 on daily basis to buy water that will sustain her household.
This she said is because of the absence of public water supply in the area, adding, that a few privileged houses that have boreholes depend on the power supply to pump water.
“Now, that we are in darkness, we depend on those that have big generators that can carry their pumping machine for water. A truck of water that use to sell for N200, before, is now selling at N400.
“That is a 200 per cent increase in the price of water alone. Business owners are equally complaining that they are now selling minerals and sachet water at a loss because they have to buy ice blocks on daily basis to freeze their drinks”.
A business owner in the area, Mr. Ebuka Chukwuatuegwu said that he is already planning to relocate his business to another location, due to the continued power outage in Kabayi Community.
He said: “Buying fuel to power generating set morning and night is crumbling most businesses in this area. And you cannot because you freeze your drinks with a generator or ice block which is additional expenses attempt to increase the price of the commodity.
“Even though you need to recover the additional expenses to continue to be in business. Your customers will go to other places to buy if you attempt to jack up the price beyond what others are selling. We compete, but if I continue like this, I may be forced at the end of the day to leave this town a frustrated fellow. I don’t want that to happen to me.
“To make matter worse, no serious effort is been made to address this problem. This is because the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC), which supplies electricity to this community enjoys an absolute monopoly. They are not in competition with other energy providers, that is if they even exist.
“Those who are making effort to ensure that another transformer is installed in the area are already bragging that if not for their effort, the community will stay more than one year and nobody will ask if there is a power supply in the area or not.
“They are now tasking every landlord in the area to contribute N300 each to enable them realize the estimated N600,000 they intend to use to appreciate the manager of the AEDC, as well as other logistics after installing the new transformer. The landlords are in turn tasking tenants. But how can a thing of this nature happen and the company will claim to be ignorant of it.
“Is it that they don’t even notice that their revenue projection from the area is dropping significantly and then try to find out what is responsible for the continued drop in the revenue actual from the area? Maybe they are making it up from their crazy estimated billing in other areas.
“That also explains why they are not willing to meter most houses so that they will continue to charge people for services not rendered. It can only happen in Nigeria. Since January this year, bakers have also continued to increase the prices of bread. The month they don’t add N50 to the price, it will be N100 without any form of notice to consumers. It can only happen here”.
Even as efforts are being made to address the problem of darkness in the area, a community leader who did not want his name in print said that another crisis that may extend the community’s romance with darkness is already brewing.
He alleged that the proprietor of Innovation Heritage Academy Kabyi, has sworn not to allow the community to install the new transformer in front of his school.
But whether he possesses the war chest to challenge the entire community to a fight at the appropriate time is a story for another day as the new transformer is yet to be released to the community.
Meanwhile, efforts to speak to the relevant authorities for their reactions to the issue proved abortive.
When our correspondent visited Karu local government secretariat on Friday, neither the Chairman nor the Spokesperson of the area council was on the seat.
When contacted, the Chief Marketing Officer of the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC), Mr. Donald Etim, decline to comment on the issue.
He told our correspondent to send his questions for onward transmission to those whose responsibility it is to speak on the matter.
When ThisNigeria sent the questions to him, he responded in the following fashion, “Forwarded to the new CTO for necessary action”.
As of the time of filing this report, the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC), did not get back to ThisNigeria on this issue.
Kabayi Community is appealing to the relevant authorities to come to their aid as the continued power outage in the area is making life unbelievable for residents.