By Chris Chimezie
Stakeholders in the Ondo South Senatorial District have pledged commitment to power restoration intervention move embarked upon by the State and the Federal Government aimed at ending the almost ten years blackout in the area.
The State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), met with critical stakeholders of Ondo South Senatorial District at two separate Town Hall Meetings to commence the process of restoration of electricity to the district by the Niger Delta Power Holding Company, after over ten years without power supply to the area.
Four of the six Local Governments in the district: Ese-Odo, Ilaje , Irele and Okitipupa have had their socio-economic activities paralyzed for over a decade in view of lack of public power supply to the areas.
The people have since then maintained sustained pressure on governments particularly the State Government by embarking on ceaseless protests and agitations which have on several occasions created panic, tensions and apprehensions among the populace.
Since assumption of duty, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu has continually used every auspicious occasion, consequent upon his closeness to Federal Authorities, to table the plights of residents of Ondo South, so that life could begin to have meaning to them.
During one of the visits of the Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, to Ondo State in 2017, he promised at a Stakeholders Meeting in the area on behalf of the Federal Government to get power supply restored to the areas shortly.
In the same vein, the meeting of the governor with the management of Benin Electricity Distribution Company, BEDC, also in 2017 which got commitments from the power distribution company but regrettably did not make power supply available to the people to their utter disbelief.
These made the people greatly disillusioned and regrettably disappointed. They therefore resolved never to trust any form of promises and assurances.
Their mindsets were erroneously permeated with the assumption that only gimmicks were coming from governments.
Against this background, the Ondo State Governor decided to meet with people of the district at two separate Town Hall Meetings in Igbokoda for Ilaje and Ese-Odo Local Governments and in Okitipupa for Irele and Okitipupa Local Governments.
At Williams Place in Igbokoda venue of the first Stakeholders’ Meeting, the governor allowed all interested parties from the youths to women, opinion leaders and traditional leaders to freely express ther iconcerns.
Even when some of the youths were going to be shut out of the meeting because of their obvious exuberances and disorderly behaviours, Governor Akeredolu insisted they be allowed into the hall to be part of the meeting.
Likewise at Idepe Town Hall, Okitipupa, critical stakeholders in Irele and Okitipupa were allowed to express their minds.
The youths, women, artisans, Religious Leaders and Traditional Rulers did not hold back their thoughts. Just like in the first meeting, it was only the Traditional Leaders who expressed some degree of optimism that normal electricity supply would soon be restored to their areas.
They came out in high pitch of pessimism but the traditional rulers doused the tension by appealing for calm and urged their agitated people to give the State and Federal Governments some benefit of doubts.
In his opening remarks at both meetings, the Ondo State Deputy Governor, Hon Agboola Ajayi who spoke in Yoruba Language but had to punctuate his thoughts in the dialects of the people for effective communication, said the meetings were organized on the heels of series of critical interventionist efforts on the part of Governor Akeredolu to put the problems of power behind the people of the Southern Senatorial District of the state.
Describing the meetings as unique, the Deputy Governor who is an indigene of the area said they were held at a time the State and Federal Governments and some of the illustrious sons and daughters of the area have collectively resolved to find a lasting solution to lack of power supply in the entire Ondo South Senatorial District of the state.
In his presentations at both meetings also expressed in both their dialects, Yoruba and English Languages, the Executive Director, Engineering and Technical Services of Niger Delta Power Holding Company, Engineer Ifeoluwa Oyodele noted that the entire District has suffered power outage for years, adding that the sufferings would soon come to an end as efforts to restore lights to the region has commenced courtesy of the untiring efforts of the State Governor and the approval of the Federal Government.
Engineer Oyedele took time to explain the scope of work for the restoration of the expected uninterrupted power supply to the area based on the survey conducted to include; the rehabilitation of 5km, 33kv line from Okitipupa to Igodan-Lisa.
Others according to him, include the construction of 1×7.5mVA, 33/11KV injection Substation, construction of 6km, 11KV line in Igodan-Lisa town and the construction of 2Nos. of 500KVA distribution Sub-stations within Ondo State University of Science and Technology campus and 8Nos. of 300 KVA, 11/0.415KV Distribution Transformers in Igodan-Lisa.
While describing President Mohammed Buhari as a man of his words, Engineer Oyedele said the President was bringing his promise to restore light to the region to fulfillment, adding that the project, when completed would be the first extensive power infrastructural upgrade in the country.
The NDPHC Executive Director assured that youths of the communities would be offered employment opportunities by the contractors handling the project which would be added advantage aimed at empowering youths of the region.
In their contributions at the first meeting place, the Olugbo of Ugbo, Oba Frederick Akinruntan and the Kalasuwe of Apoiland, Oba (Prof) Adejimola Amuseghan lamented the situation which had traumatized the people of the region and plunged their business activities into colossal lose.
While thanking the Akeredolu-administration and the Federal Government for fulfilling their promises to ensure that light was restored to the area, the monarchs assured of the communities’ support towards ensuring the timely completion of the project.
They however appealed to the aggrieved youths to exercise more patience and cooperate with the contractors with a view to ensuring that the project did not exceed its completion period.
At Idepe, the Jegun of Idepe-Okitipupa, Oba Adetoye Obatuga who expressed sadness over many years of darkness which brought untold hardship to his subjects, however appreciated the latest efforts by State and Federal Governments at restoring light to the area.
The Ahaba of Ajagba, Oba Thomas Adesayo, JP spoke of the need to embrace the present efforts to restore light to the southern parts of Ondo State. He called on the youths to stop all agitations to allow peace reign for the contractors to work on the project.
In his address also presented in Yoruba Language and centered on addressing the concerns of the people, Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, spoke on how painful it had been to have almost one third of the state in total darkness for an upward of ten years.
He however assured the people that the pains of the past were gradually coming to an end with the creative introduction of the Solar Power Systems into communities such as Aboto and Igbobini and Mini-grids Power Plants by his administration before the completion of the Federal Government sponsored Niger Delta Power Holding Company electricity infrastructural upgrade project in the area.
The governor therefore appealed to the people of the Southern Senatorial District to cooperate with the contractors Messers AAKS & Bros and Saloguru Nig. Ltd in a bid to ensure speedy restoration ofr power to the region.
Governor Akeredolu who appealed to youths in the area to stop blocking the highways as work was already ongoing to make light available to all the communities in the region.
Akeredolu who added that before power would be restored, the contractors would have to work on the rehabilitation of the lines which have been faulty long ago, hinted that when work got completed in one community, it would be shifted to another until everywhere becomes lighted up in no distant time.
While appreciating the Federal Government through the Niger Delta Power Holding Company for not dashing the hopes of the people, Governor Akeredolu noted with utmost satisfaction the commitment of the Vice-president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo to the directives of President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that power was restored to the area.
Arakunrin Akeredolu however appealed to the Traditional Rulers to ensure that the contractors handling the projects and their facilities were protected.
The climax of the event was the formal ground-breaking ceremony at the campus of Ondo State University of Science and Technology, OSUSTECH, in Okitipupa to mark the inauguration of projects for the restoration and upgrading of power supply to the Southern District of the Sunshine State.
Top officials of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company , NDPHC, who accompanied the Executive Director, Engineering & Technical Services, Engineer Ifeoluwa Oyedele to the meetings include: General Manager, Communications & Public Relations, Mr. Yakubu Lawal and Deputy General Manager, Distribution Engr. Moses Mele Gaza may.
Others are Manager Communication & Public Relations, Mr. James Odey; Field Project Manager/Distribution,Engr. J.O.T. Alimikhena; Field Project Manager, Engr.A.A.Shittu; Manager, Admin. and the Technical Assistant to Executive Director, ED& Ts, Engr. Ngama Aji Lawan.
Also, the management teams of the Contracting Firms present include: General Project Officer, AAKS & Bros, Rajendra Prasadle; Head of Operations, AAKS & Bros; Anup Kumas; Managing Director Saloguru Nig Ltd, .Alhaji Balarabe A and the Engineer Markson Ogbeide of Saloguru Nig. Ltd.
Some members of State Executive Council on the entourage of the governor include: Secretary to the Ondo State Government,SSG, Hon Ifedayo Abegunde; State Commissioner for Education, Pastor Femi Agagu and State Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Pastor Emmanuel Igbasan.
Others include; State Commissioner for Environment , Mr. Funso Esan; Special Adviser to Governor on Education , Dr Olawunmi Ilawole; Special Adviser to the Governor on Political Matters , Hon. Olatunji Fabiyi and the representative of Ondo State on board of Niger Delta Commission,NDDC, Mr Lucky Ayedatiwa with other top officials of the State Government.
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