AJEGUNLE: Community People Fight Against Electricity Exploitation
Nigeria’s national electricity grid has collapsed more than 200 times in the last nine years, regularly resulting in widespread blackouts. The power outages, which prevent people from meeting routine business and household needs, result in huge economic and social costs. This is an index of the failure of the electricity privatisation in Nigeria.
By Moshood Osunfunrewa Coordinator, DSM Ajegunle
Residential customers who pay a different rate than commercial customers, complain that they are paying a lot for power but receiving little in return. Struggle over poor supply and exploitation of consumers is not new in Ajegunle communities. What is unusual is the use of police by the EKO DISCO management to arrest leaders of communities that attempt organize to resist outrageous billing.
In Tolu community of Ajegunle, ten residents including socialists and activists were arrested on January 25 2023 by the police at the instance of Eko DISCO. They were all released on the second day following a protest. Their offense was mobilizing and coordinating mass resistance against Eko DISCO exploitative billing and illegal disconnection in the community.
The residents of Ajegunle were actually motivated to join the fight given the absurdity of charging N120, 000 per month for an eight-room bungalow where appliances are hardly beyond television, fan and light bulb. Worse still, they are also slammed with such outrageous bill even when they don’t enjoy electricity supply.
The residents should remain steadfast and be confident that the struggle will bear fruit. Victory in Tolu community or elsewhere in Ajegunle can be an inspiration to other communities in Lagos and across the country where residents are facing similar exploitation from Disco’s. This also calls for a coordinated and united action of all Ajegunle communities in struggle against Eko DISCO. Also importantly, there is need for the NLC to provide a platform to bring together different communities across the country in struggle over electricity. However, the struggle against fraudulent billing and poor supply must be linked with the demands against outrageous tariff hike and for the return of power public ownership under the democratic management of workers and consumers.