The Aba Power Project, a member of Geometric Power group, has launched a campaign against those vandalizing its assets in nine of the 17 Local Government Areas it is serving in Abia State. Managing Director of Aba Power Project, Mr. Patrick Umeh, explained in a statement issued yesterday that the campaign is also being mounted against those who steal critical components in distribution transformers, distribution infrastructure and illegal connections as well as those who engage in meter bypassing. “It is extremely difficult to understand how some individuals are so unconscionable as to put industries, whole estates, villages and other neighborhoods in darkness by stealing wires to make spoons and trinkets”, Umeh, a former commissioner with the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), said. The former executive of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Light in California, United States, added that: “Nigeria is the country I know where a handful of individuals witfully damage such critical public assets, only to turn round to blame the authorities for not providing basic infrastructure like electricity and for growing misery in the land”.
Describing the vandals as the nation’s worst economic saboteurs, Umeh wondered why some educated and prosperous Nigerians indulge in meter bypassing through which they pay next to nothing or nothing at all for electricity service they enjoy.
He asked rhetorically: “If people don’t pay for service provided by private electricity firms, how can they remain in business when they conduct businesses in dollar transactions?”
He vowed that the campaign against electricity thieves and vandals “will be relentless and holistic.
“We have been holding dialogues on this extremely dangerous phenomenon with stakeholders like the Aba Chamber of Commerce, Leather Manufacturers Association, Aba Industrialists Association, Joint Action Group on Electricity, Electrical Contractors of Nigeria, community leaders, vigilante group members, security agencies and other committed stakeholders.
“Time was when the power electric sector was owned and operated by state utilities like National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) and Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) which led some Nigerians to still think that electricity is no person’s business; government business is often considered no person’s business.
“But the Aba Power Project is a $600 million business by a few Igbo individuals led by Professor Bart Nnaji, a former Power Minister and world-class engineering professor who returned from the United States to dedicate his life to a revolution in Nigeria’s power sector.
“These Igbo persons want to develop their homeland, starting with Aba for the simple fact that Aba has over the decades been famous for indigenous manufacturing, commerce and innovation.
“The Aba Power Project is an eloquent demonstration of the Igbo concepts of Aku ruo ulo (that is to say that wealth or success has no meaning until it touches one’s people in a positive and practical way) and nke a bu nke anyi (meaning this is truly ours).
“It is unfathomable that a handful of electricity consumers are willfully undermining a hugely expensive project designed to change in a profound way the development landscape of the South-east and beyond?”
The Aba Power Project MD promised an undisclosed wholesome reward and recognition for any person who provides useful information which will lead to the arrest and successful prosecution of any person sabotaging the service of the private electric utility.