2 Years After Oye-Ekiti Protest, Electricity Worsens In Nigeria’s Southwest Community
Despite a protest that shook the Oye community in the country's Southwest region, and a multimillion naira power project, the people still live in darkness
On Sept. 10, 2019, students at Federal University Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE) held a protest against the poor state of electricity in the institution and Oye community.
“The actual plan for the protest was to walk down to the Power Holding Company for the Oye community and express their grief. Understandably, electricity is a necessary amenity for students. It turned the other way round when the First Lady of Ekiti State, Bisi Fayemi came into Oye,” Kunle Adaramoye, who is a student and one of the protesters, told HumAngle.
According to a report, Fayemi, who was to attend a women empowerment programme in Oye’s Civic Center, was redirected through an alternative route after she learnt of the protest.
Meanwhile, some of the students’ leaders who noticed her presence went ahead to meet her lamenting their ordeal. This, however, turned violent as her security guard allegedly opened fire to disperse students.
To defend themselves, the students threw stones and bottles at the security operatives. Some students were reported to have sustained injuries, likewise the Police. On that day, Joseph Okonofua and Kehinde Dada were shot dead by the police.
After this horrible incident, the school’s management asked all students to go home.
Power supply before the protest
Mrs Falade, a trader in the Oye community, sells soft drinks, biscuits, and other items. She spends money on iced blocks to cool her drinks so people would purchase them.
“I have been a trader in this land for the past seven years. Before those students protested, the state of electricity was not really fine,” she explained.
Most times, when she buys the iced blocks, there won’t be much sales. “If not for the students, how many people do we have in Oye or how many of these residents would buy cold drinks? I waste money, most times. If there were to be constant power supply, I wouldn’t have to complain about spending my profits on iced blocks,” she concluded.
Electricity returns during break
After the university’s two months break, some of the indigenes told the students how electricity was supplied.
Speaking with this reporter, Bamigbose Ajibola, a graduate of Peace and Conflict studies — having spent more than five years in the university, said, “It’s pathetic when someone fights hard for something only for the thing to go back to zero. It would look as if everything you have done is fruitless. Before the protest, the electricity was bad, after the protest, it became worse. Nothing was fixed. When we resumed school, we were surprised not to see any changes.”
According to community members, electricity was supplied at least twice in a week; however, “when the power holding company noticed that students had resumed, they changed the mode totally. The method was then changed from the so-called twice a week till the end of the month. They would give us power supply on the 25th of every month and it would last for just three days,” she complained.
Kehinde Makanjuola, a 300 level Biochemistry student explained that the state of electricity in Oye and Ikole gets worse every day. “When there is power supply, students are always scared to charge their gadgets because the current is always very low. This could even destroy some of the appliances,” he said.
A Political Science graduate, Onileowo Ifeoluwa, added that the issue of electricity in Oye community is not limited to Oye campus alone because Ikole students also suffer the same thing.
“Electricity is something that is very vital because most of our materials are PDFs. How do we study when there is no light to charge our gadgets? The trend of students moving around mostly at night just to charge still persists despite the demand for better power supply. The fact is that the power supply situation after the protest is still very poor compared to what’s obtainable before,” he concluded.
Oloye wades in
In an interview with the King of Oye, Oba Oluwole Ademolaju, he alleged that most transformers given to the community by the state government were dysfunctional.
“The transformers stopped functioning well and I told some men to help me bring those transformers to the palace. I fixed some of them, of which one was taken to the school road for the University.”
“The community had contributed about two million naira for the activation of the transformer, however, the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) officials have not come to activate the transformer. It has been over six months now and nothing has been done to it yet,” he explained.
Multimillion naira power project
In Jan. 2020, a non-governmental organisation, Flying High/Pikin Id, met with the school’s management to sign a multimillion naira power project. It was reported that this project would enable power supply in Oye and Ikole campuses, respectively.
The Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Jide-David Modede and Femi Ajayi of Flying High/Pikin Id with the then Vice-chancellor, Prof Kayode Soremekun, and the institution’s Registrar, Mr Muftau Ibrahim, on Jan. 21 2019.
However, since then, the project is yet to commence. According to Modede, “the new Vice-chancellor has not signed the proposal yet, that is why we have not commenced operations. If he signs it today, we would begin operations immediately and the project would last for 12 weeks.”
He explained that once the project is done, there would be power supply on both campuses and the university would disconnect from the community’s power supply.
Ido BEDC keeps mum
All attempts to reach Ido BEDC proved abortive as they did not respond to calls or text messages.
In June 2021, this reporter placed a phone call to one of the officials called Mr Kunle. He asked the reporter to come to their office. But since then he became inaccessible for a scheduled physical meeting.
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