Mass struggle Underway in Awodi-Ora Community of Ajegunle, Lagos, against Crazy Bills and exp
Mass struggle underway in Awodi-Ora Community of Ajegunle, Lagos, against Crazy Bills and exploitation by EKEDC
By Fidel Davynovich – DSM Ajegunle
The ongoing campaign against electricity exploitation and extortion by the Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC) initiated by Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), Ajegunle, on 5 April, 2017 has won wide support and generated mass struggle including mass meetings, community-wide agitations and a protest march. An average of 80 community members often attends each of the mass meetings.
The DSM is playing crucial roles in this struggle with a member of the DSM Ajegunle branch, Comrade Onwunalu Ifeanyi appointed as the coordinator of the platform leading the mass struggle â€“ the Ajegunle People’s Movement (APM) Awodi-Ora chapter.
On 25 April, 2017 at a night market (the convergence ground for the public meeting) residents of Awodi-Ora community in Ajegunle gathered around 8am to protest at the outrageous bills issued to electricity consumers. This was following the previous resolution reached on 17 April, 2017 at another mass meeting where it was agreed that each compound should not pay more than N4,000 as electricity bills as against the outrageous bills issued that are as high as N10,000 despite the epileptic power supply.
People in the community under the platform of Ajegunle People’s Movement (APM) Awodi-Ora Chapter have decided that something must be done to end the rip-off and mobilized residents to join the campaign. Consequently, residents overwhelmingly joined the mass activities geared towards resisting the ongoing attacks.
The protesters moved peacefully and well organized to the various streets like Oko Baba Sule, Akerele, Ladino, Okito, etc., to sensitize the people and ended the march at the electricity company’s office in Ajegunle.
Some of the placards raised have the following demands: (1) no prepaid metre! No payment! (2) No disconnection! (3)Total reversal of tariff from N24 back to N11 per kW/h now! (4) Privatization is darkness! Nationalization is regular power supply (5) Implement new minimum wage of N56, 000! etc.
Some messages on the placards that defended the electricity workers’ interests like the demand for an end to casualization and N56, 000 minimum wage helped draw sympathy from the electricity workers who in whisper, apparently for fear of victimization, expressed support for the protest.
After forty five minutes of the protest, top management staff came out to address the crowd. Fidel Davynovich, a member of DSM, articulated the issues and placed the demands of the protesters before the management of the distribution company. Engineer Solomon spoke about the perennial crazy billing issued to consumers.
The distribution manager Mr. Obarinde A. Adekunle who later addressed us categorically said. “Consumers can’t determine the billing. It is the distribution companies that determine it.” He further told the protesters that the community must accept estimated billing as an acceptable way of billing until all consumers are issued meters!. There was mass rejection of Mr. Adekunle’s submission by the protesters. This also strengthened the support for the growing calls for government to take back the industry from the power companies.
Around 11:45am policemen from Ajeromi Police Station, called by the EKEDC management to disrupt the protest march, came but discovered that it was a peaceful protest. The police officers who later mediated between the community protesters and the Eko Distribution sympathized with us and voiced out the same frustration. The police officers urged amicable resolution of impasse and called on the company to stop disconnection of electricity until the matter is fully resolved.
But few days later, on April 28, the same Police arrested and detained a leading member of the DSM in Ajegunle, comrade Ifeanyi Onwunalu who is the coordinator of the campaign, and 2 other activists on trumped up charges brought forward by management staff of Eko Distribution Company. They were later released following series of protest calls and messages sent to top Police officers in Lagos State and top management staff of Eko Distribution Company by members of DSM and community activists.
The community has resolved to intensify the sensitization and mobilization for a bigger protest march to the head office of Eko Distribution Company in Marina. This will include the mobilization of trade unions like the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Nigerian Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) as well as community associations, organizations and all residents to join the campaign.
Our Demands are:
- Total reversal of tariff from N24 to N11 par kilowatt
- End to crazy (exploitative) billing
- Issuance of prepaid meter to all consumers
- Better pay and working conditions for electricity workers. End contract staffing and casualization in the power sector
- Re-nationalization of the power sector under a democratic control of workers and consumers
- End disconnection of electricity until the matter is resolved