Angry youths in the Ondo South Senatorial District of Ondo State on Wednesday have taken their protests to the Lagos-Benin Expressway over poor power supply to the communities in the district for the past 10 years.
It was gathered that over 1,000 communities in the six local government areas of the senatorial district had been without electricity for over 10 years after they were allegedly cut off from the national grid following their alleged indebtedness to the then Power Holding Company of Nigeria, Punch reports.
The protesters, including members of all the youth associations in the area, alleged that Ondo State and the Federal Government failed to find a lasting solution to the economic problem of the affected communities which, according to them, was caused by unavailability of electricity in the area.
The youths displayed placards with inscriptions such as, ‘Revoke the licence of BEDC,’ ‘Is this democracy of kleptocracy?’ ‘Ten years of darkness, wetin we do,’ ‘Blackout has crumbled our economic activities,’ ‘This darkness is enough,’ and ‘Bring back our light,’ among others.
As a result of the protest, there was a traffic logjam on the highway for hours and it took the intervention of the state police command and other security agencies to clear the road for stranded travellers.
The leader of the protesters, Kunle Ajayi, said they decided to shut the busy expressway in order to draw the attention of the government and compel it to find a permanent solution to their power problem.
He explained that some members of the community had met with the government and other stakeholders, adding that there was no positive response.
“For over 10 years, our people have been living in darkness and this government has kept mute over our plight despite our pleas.
“The current Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, used this problem of power supply to campaign. He told us that he would resolve it, but nothing has been done till today.
“So, our demand is that we want the licence of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company, the new firm managing power in this area, to be immediately revoked by the Federal Government. We want Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and his deputy, Agboola Ajayi, to step down because they have failed us completely.
“We are also asking the government to immediately restore electricity to the affected local government areas because this suffering is enough.
The protesters gave the government 14 days to address the issue, saying failure to do so would bring them back to the street.
In its response, the Ondo State Government said it was resolving the matter, adding that it had approved the fast-track off-grid electricity project in the area to end the blackout.