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Host Community Shuts Down Ibom Power Company Over 10yr Darkness.



Protesters in Ikpa Ibekwe in Ikot Abasi local government area of Akwa Ibom State have shut down the Ibom Power Company (IPC) for allegedly denying the area electricity since the company started producing power in 2010.

Comprising of youths, market women, artisans, fishermen and the rest, the protesters in their thousands barricaded the main gate and other entrances to the power plant.

They also placed a traditional injunction with eight human corpses and vowed not to vacate the premises of the company until the Community is connected to electricity.

Our correspondent who visited the community observed that banks, markets, fishing ports, shops and all manner of businesses were shut down due to the protest.

They carried placards with various inscriptions including: “No light, no work’, ‘Ikpa Ibekwe says No to Darkness’, That’s All’s, ‘No Negotiation, No Meeting, Only Light ‘, ‘We are your Landlord, IPC’ among others.

Ikpa Ibekwe is the host community of the Ibom Power Company as well as the moribund Aluminum Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON).

However, economic activities have been crippled in the area due to lack of electricity even as it has been disconnected from the national grid by Port Harcourt Electricity Holding Company of Nigeria.

Youth President of Ikpa Ibekwe, Friday Benjamin told our correspondent that it was a huge embarrassment that the community which host the power company has not benefited from power supply.

Benjamin said for the 10 years that IPC started producing power and contributing enormously to the national grid, the company has not deemed it necessary to connect the community with electricity.

“The Ibom Power Company started generating electricity since 2010 and since then it has not met its corporate social responsibility to this community. They have not given us light.

“We didn’t bother so much then because ALSCON used to give us but now that we in perpetual darkness’. We can’t have this giant facility and continue to live in darkness.

“We have been facing so many hazards as a result of the operations of the company here. Many of us have died from strange diseases caused by toxic fumes. We are not ready to suffer the hazards alone, we also want to enjoy the benefits of the plant,” he said.

Also speaking youth leader of Ikot Abasi village and chairman youth President’s Forum of Ikot Abasi LGA, Mr. Archibong Williams, said the people have been suffering for more than fifteen years without light despite being host to Ibom Power Plant.

He said their appeal to the management has fallen on deaf ears hence the Youths including market women and students decided to shut down the operation of the company until it gives positive responses to their plights.

“We have a power plant that is called Ibom Power Plant and for years it has been generating light but we don’t see this light and we the host communities have nothing to show for it. We have been in darkness for 15 years.

“So the aggressive youths, women and students are here. Some time, last year, we gave a 21 day ultimatum which was extended to one year and some days but our grievances were not met.

“The youths on Monday and yesterday (Tuesday) decided that the company is not going to operate again. So we have shut down the company and put eight corpses as traditional injunction to stop movement in and out of the company.

“As we speak there is no market in Ikot Abasi LGA, there is no shop opened and there is no school going on,” he said.

The President of Mboho Mkparawa, Ikot Abasi, Frank Enoidem described their condition as pathetic, adding that the management of the company has been making things difficult as it has not come out with positive response since the agitation began.

“What we have done is a peaceful protest against poor electricity supply to our communities. This agitation has been there for long time but nothing positive has been done.

“Last year, the Governor was here and after that we see some transformers but no light. So, we are beginning to suspect that those transformers were for political reasons.

“The Ibom Power Plant management has been making things difficult for us, because they have not come up with a positive response for us to hold and know that something is being done,” he said.

Reacting to the comments, the Managing Director of the Plant, Meyen Etukudo said the management and the host representatives of the host communities have been meeting and something was being done about the situation.

He said, “The overall youth President was in my office on Friday, January 10, January, 2020. He saw me here as I was going to see the Governor for the approval of the substation at Ikot Abasi.

“The Governor said I should present the memo at the Finance and General Purpose Committee headed by him and that was my first time to present a memo there, all because of the power issue at Ikot Abasi. And between Friday and Monday; how many hours?

“But the next thing they could do was shut down the place. The Paramount Ruler called me and I was there about 3pm on Monday”.

He explained that when the Ibom Power Plant was constructed, the station service transformers to bring down the light to the host communities were not done.

“The people think it is just as easy as bringing down the light from the turbines. This needs a separate substation which the Governor has already approved. We are talking about Engineering and conception here not to talk about the cost,” Etukudo said.

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