“We owe it to ourselves and to the world, to our own dignity and self-respect, to set our own standards of behavior.........” - Eleanor Roosevelt in Atlantic Monthly of April 1961
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt -Cairns Post, September 4, 1943
The two attendants were sitting on one of the pavements on which a set of petrol pumping machines were situated. Obviously, with nothing to do, they watched lethargically, as time ticked by. Their moods, which seemed marinated in miasma, were very titanic to contemplate. The readability of those moods would have challenged the skills of the most adept and brilliant psychiatrist or psychoanalyst.
Their looks, seemingly dejected, was a billow of shrouded depression. As their melancholic facial contorts meandered upwards to look at me, their gloom glowed desultorily. The cloud of frustration was more than palpable.
Their dour demeanour denoted aridity of liveliness. There was obvious lack of enthusiasm. The emptiness of the Gas Station could as well be emblematic of their simmering sorrowful souls. A metastasized metaphor of the dreary dungeon into which they have been dragged by the duplicitous Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company, IBEDC.
"Á nû na o, a l'épo, à mó é s'úna," one of them lamentably informed me in undiluted inebriating Ijesha dialect. Literally, he was saying, "We have no light. We have petrol, but there is no light." At first, fathoming the logicality of that statement was finicky. I could not comprehend the scenario staring me in the face. I wondered why a gas station would not have light, and if it didn't why not put on the Electric generator to do its business?
But not until I had been adequately schooled and educated by the petrol attendants did I know the lacerating pangs being inflicted on them by IBEDC. Without that important education from the attendants, I could never have known the harrowing depth of leery eeriness with which this part of Ilesha and by extension, the entire Ijeshaland have been enveloped by IBEDC.
Propelled by the excitement of participating in the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of my High School's Alumni Association, yes, the Cherubim and Seraphim High School, Ilesa, fondly and endearingly referred to as KERUBU by admirers, the shock of the reported atrocious acts of meanness, cruelty, crookedness and criminalities of IBEDC in Ijeshaland was a preemptive anti - climax for me.
The shocking report tried to douse the fire of enthusiasm burning in my veins as I tried to get to KERUBU. It tried to be a hurdle. But the apron that tied and still ties me to KERUBU, my darling KERUBU, proved too strong for the IBEDC's shenanigans fueled by luciferous shylockian tendencies.
IBEDC, its management and staff have been holding the people of Ijeshaland as hostages. The company has been holding our people to ransom. They have been rampaging through Ijeshaland like ravenous omnivores, devouring without let or hindrance, the sanity and pride of Ijesha people.
Like licentious leeches, IBEDC has been fleecing the people of their wealth. IBEDC has been draining life out of our community while simultaneously crippling the economy that produces its wealth by providing darkness at exorbitant fees. IBEDC commits all its atrocities with an unfeeling, uncaring, unsympathetic, heartless gusto served on the putrid plates of predatory instincts, unpretentious in its steamy, salacious savagery that have been unprecedented.
Evidently, it has been foolhardy to count on IBEDC's good faith. It has amounted to utter naivety. IBEDC representatives met with the Governor of Osun State along with Owa Obokun Adimula of Ijeshaland, Oba (Dr.) Adekunle Aromolaran, as well as the community leaders, elected leaders and representatives and promised to bring back the light. It has only raised a finger since its emissaries left that meeting. And it was a finger raised in deceit. It has refused to raise a hand in genuine commitment to restore electricity to Ijesaland.
IBEDC, taking a cue from its racist Executive who insulted the brave Ijesha people, has refused to be swift. It has refused to be considerate. It has refused to feel. It could not be botheted. IBEDC does not care. The whole Ilesha remained in the dark throughout the Easter. It is still in darkness. With Apartheid mentality, what concerns IBEDC with lack of electricity in Ijeshaland? IBEDC could care less. Indeed, it cared less. And in fact, it cares less.
He who drinks blood does not care about the feelings, thoughts and comfort of its victims. All he wants is to quench its bloodthirstiness. All the vampire wants is to satiate and saturate its flagitious desire. IBEDC, a vampire corporate outfit, only thinks of its ownership, its racist Executive and stone cold management. If IBEDC has its ways, it would not even pay the wages of its hapless workers being forced into and used for criminalities.
Aside from the ugliness of their infamous "estimated billings," with which they bilked and milked defenceless citizens in Ijeshaland and other places, the staff of IBEDC have reportedly been found with stolen electricity cables. These are the cables IBEDC have allegedly requested customers to purchase in the first place. IBEDC made such purchses a precondition, before they could be connected. It was also a precondition for the repair of whatever that was faulty.
Deliberately, IBEDC officials would allegedly delay the repairs after the purchase of such equipment and allowed a thawing period to be able to pilfer them and then come back to resell them to the hapless citizens. Unknown to these IBEDC bandits, some of the cables which they have brought back to sell to the customers had been marked!
IBEDC as a corporate outfit has been on rampage of violations of consumers' rights. The DisCo has been breaking the rules ceaselessly. IBEDC has been acting as if it was and still is above the Law.
One of the ways IBEDC has been terrorizing the Ijesha people before the revolt was always asking their customers to buy replacement equipment. Yet according to the rules of operation, it was not the responsibility of electricity customer or community to buy, replace or repair electricity transformers, poles and related equipment used in the supply of electricity.
Also, one of the rules stipulates that "all customers have a right to refund when over billed." To this extent, IBEDC, according to experts, has to pay back over NGN 7.5 billion to Ijeshaland just for over-billing alone. It is therefore my suggestion that the Nigerian Bar Association in Ijeshaland should proceed to Court to seek this indemnity and get back the people's money from IBEDC.
Another rampaged rule by IBEDC was that "all customers have a right to transparent electricity billing." The so called "estimated billing" is thus a clear violation for which IBEDC must be held accountable. "Estimated billing" by IBEDC was not just non - transparent, it was dark, obfuscating, opaque, ambiguous and exploitative.
The so called "estimated billing" has been a conscious exercise in profiteering. It has been an exasperating exudation of imperviousness. It was and still remains a blatant, flagrant, egregious and scandalous act. The Law Courts should be flooded with suits against this rapacious corporate outfit to bring it to book.
There is a need for concerted citizen action against IBEDC. We need to fight to uphold our rights in Ijeshaland and resist this ugliness. And borrowing from Eleanor Roosevelt, I believe "We owe it to ourselves" and to the Yoruba Nation, "to our own dignity and self-respect," as Ijesha and "to set our own standards of behavior," regardless of what others do or might do.
It is ironical, if not an ignominious coincidence, that a lecherous corporate outfit like IBEDC was named after one of the greatest cities in Yoruba Nation, IBADAN, the Ilé Iba Olúyòlé. In fact and indeed, the odious audacity, the fulminous effrontery and the truculent temerity of that company called IBEDC to appropriate the noble name of a noble city for an ignoble enterprise is incredible. It is out of this world. And it is a big shame.
Regardless, this tyranny of IBEDC must be brought to an end in Ijeshaland. IBEDC's terrorism against the innocent and defenceless citizens should be brought to an end by any means necessary. We must reject exploitation, subjugation and denigration of ourselves and our people. All the sons and daughters of Ijeshaland at home and in Diaspora must stand up to be counted.
We must realise that IBEDC is not coming to do any repairs in Ilesa very soon. It is currently engaged in a media image laundry exercise. It is trying to convince the public that it is a good corporate citizen when in fact and indeed, it is the evil that must be fought to a stand still. The public is not deceived. They are the ones feeling the pains being inflicted by IBEDC, so, they know IBEDC first hand. Someone should remind the IBEDC Public Relations Department, that a good product is easier to sell.
IBEDC is out to rip apart our psyche and reprobate our humanity. IBEDC is out to prune our pride and soil our self-respect. IBEDC is out to ruin our land. IBEDC is out to destroy our self-esteem and turn us to willing and witting second class citizens in our land. IBEDC is a conscienceless, cancerous, corrupt corporate outfit. It is a rapacious whirlwind out to inflict destruction and leave our land desolate.
We must not let them. We must organise to resist them. We must call their bluff. It is a duty and obligation on our parts. We must begin to think of the alternatives to IBEDC. We must gird our loins for a long tortuous journey to the promised land of freedom and independence.
This is a clarion call to freedom. It is a call to resistance. It is a call to liberation. It is a call to reclaim our dignity. It is a call to re-pave the pristine path back to our primal pride, and our essence as Ijesha people.
The time is now!
"In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility – I welcome it.”
- John F. Kennedy, in his Inaugural Address January 20, 1961
Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."
Reproduction is authorised provided the author's permission is granted.