* Ring leader demanded for contracts worth N7.3m without success
By Codratus Godson & Gladys Nweke
Uyo: A you leader who allegedly asked for contracts from the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company Limited (PHED) without success is said to have led youths to shut down power supply in Akwa Ibom.
Thus, Uyo, the state capital, has been thrown into darkness following the action of one youth group, West Itam Youth Forum, to picket the transmission station in Itu. This led to shut down of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).
Speaking on the development, PHED described the situation as unwarranted, saying the protesting youths have also moved to its Uyo office to drop a coffin as the continuation of the protest.
The Corporate Communications head of PHED, Mr John Onyi, said the action of the youth group has led to inability of the TCN to supply power to Port Harcourt Disco for onward distribution to its valued customers in Akwa Ibom State.
The outage was because of the action of the Itam West Youth Forum under the leadership of Obong Ubong Akpan, who early in the morning allegedly barricaded the Transmission Station located at Itu close to the state capital, thereby forcing the station to shut down supply forcefully.
He also noted that the same group later moved to PHED office at 4-Lane with a coffin, a show of shame championed by its leader. He said the youths dropped the said coffin at the entrance of the office, scared customers away and blocked the company.
“The economic activities of the entire state have been brought to a halt as a result of the sacking of TCN’s officials on duty by the irate youth.”
Onyi also accused the leader of the protests, Ubong Akpan, of staging the protest to blackmail the company for refusing to award him contracts, warning that the company will not be cowed by the group.
He called on Akwa Ibom State government and security agencies in the state to step in and advise the youth group and its leaders to vacate the premises of TCN and remove their coffin from PHED’s office in Uyo with a view to wheeling out supply to PHED customers.
The action of the youth may have been surreptitious by its leader, Akpan, who has repeatedly demanded for a contract worth N6.6m to carry out enumeration on behalf of PHED in his community, Itu, comprising 79 villages.
Of course the management did not succumb to his hate speech and blackmail, hence, he now organized and misled unsuspecting members of his group in order to achieve his self-aggrandizement which he purportedly hinged on poor supply to his community-Itu.
He also submitted a proposal to PHED for sensitization in his community amounting to N731,200 which was declined for lack of merit since there is an- house department responsible for publicity.
Actually, we have met and engaged the community on the value chain in the electricity industry where we exhaustively educated them on its relevance to the sector.
PHED cannot be intimidated or coerced into doing the biddings of a self-acclaimed-messiah as we have the mandate of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to distribute power supply to our customers including Itu community in our franchise area.