The Chairman of Ibom power Board of Directors, Engr. Etido Inyang has said the agitation by Ikot Abasi community to get power directly from Ibom power plant is not feasible because Ibom power is not licensed to distribute electricity.
He however assured the community that the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Udom Emmanuel has approved the construction of 132/33kV, 1 x 30mva substation that will supply the community directly from Ibom power plant.
Engr. Etido Inyang spoke at a press briefing in Uyo where the Board and Management of Ibom power Company pleaded with the protesting youths from Ikot Abasi to call-off their protest and vacate the access road to the plant site in Ikot Abasi.
He said the Governor has also released the sum of N5million as part payment for the outstanding N60million electricity bills allegedly owed by the community. The part payment is to mobilize PHEDC to reconnect the community before work commences on the construction of the 132/33kV substation estimated to be ready between 18 to 24 months.
“The community keeps saying they want power directly from Ibom power plant but we operate in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI), which is regulated by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC). NERC only gave Ibom power a license to generate power. We do not have the licence to distribute electricity. Alscon was able to give power to the community because Alscon was not a licensed power generation company,” he said.
The Chairman said, “When the 132/33kV substation is complete, the Transmission Company of Nigeria will take over the substation while Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC) will take the power to the community. That is how the NESI works. Ibom power cannot distribute power to the community”.
He reiterated that the power, which will be supplied to the community, would not be free. There is no power generation company in Nigeria that will give light to any community free of charge,” he said.
Meanwhile a Director at Ibom power and an indigene of Ikot Abasi local government area, Barr. Uwem Ekanem has fingered PHEDC as the foundation of the power supply problem in the community. He said the community’s protest at Ibom power plant site is a transferred aggression of the injustice meted out to the community by PHEDC.
He said, “Sometime in 2007, Alscon had an understanding with the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to give power to Ikot Abasi community free of charge. PHCN agreed not to bill the community since the community did not use public power supply. In 2014, after the power sector privatization, PHEDC took over the assets and liabilities of PHCN”.
“When PHEDC took over from PHCN, they decided to factor in the electricity bills Ikot Abasi community ought to have paid during the period they received free power supply from Alscon. This is how PHEDC arrived at the N60million they claim the community owes” Barr. Ekanem stated.
He added that PHEDC claims the community was disconnected for non-payment of bills but there have been several meetings where the community asked PHEDC to present the data on how the community’s bill reached N60million but PHEDC has been unable to provide this data”.
Barr. Ekanem who is a former Local Government Chairman of Ikot Abasi however, pleaded for the intervention of Akwa Ibom State Government. He said, “This matter is to be settled by Akwa Ibom State Government, PHEDC and Ikot Abasi community”.