By Oluwatoyin Hawal Momolosho, Ilorin

Nigeria has a significant opportunity to improve its electricity services. For many years, it has been a common experience for citizens to go for long periods without power. Across the country, there is widespread dissatisfaction with the state of electricity provision, with residents voicing their frustration at the challenges it poses. This issue continues to be a major area of concern for Nigeria, highlighting the need for improvement in the sector.

In Ilorin, the electricity situation is now worse than ever, unlike some areas in Kwara State that have consistent power supply. Ilorin is notorious for its unreliable electricity, with residents often facing outages. Despite a few years of decent electricity in some specific parts of Ilorin, the situation has deteriorated. Gaa Zaka community used to be known for its reliable power supply, but now the area is also struggling with blackouts. Businesses relying on electricity are relocating from the community to retain customers, as prolonged outages lead to customer dissatisfaction.

One 35-year-old Habibullahi Abdulsomad who has been residing in Gaa-Zaka for over three years, asserts that electricity services in Nigeria need to be restored. He warns that if prompt action is not taken, Nigeria Electricity could lose its customers. “For instance, I completed the construction of my house in 2019. Due to the reliable electricity supply in the area, I hastened to move in even before completing the interior. While no one forced me to vacate my previous residence, the demands of my occupation necessitated a consistent electricity supply. Consequently, I thrived in the neighborhood, diligently paying my monthly bills without encountering any disputes. Presently, I am fatigued, and my wife reproaches me for rushing into the new house prematurely”.

“Humans are not gods; if they were, everything in this country would be in chaos. I express gratitude to the scientists who introduced solar power to us. Without it, life would be very difficult for everyone in this community. Proximity to petroleum often leads to indebtedness. Opting for solar power allows for gradual payment, which benefits many Nigerians and enables them to afford it. This shift reduces our dependence on government-provided electricity”, Abdulsomad expressed.

“Gaa-Zaka is a renowned community in Ilorin known for its reliable electricity supply. However, the reason behind its sudden change remains unclear. A couple of years ago, when I enrolled at Al-Hikmah University, I had the chance to lease a hostel in the vicinity. Being new to the school, I opted to reside closer to the campus during my first year. In my second year, I planned to move to gaa-zaka due to the electricity supply, but now the electricity is very poor. Presently, I would not recommend renting a house or purchasing property in Gaa-Zaka due to the frustrating electricity situation in the area”, as highlighted by Muhammad Adisa in an interview session.

During the interview with a business owner, Mr. Abubakar he expressed his concern about the recurring power outages in the community. He mentioned that the situation has worsened recently, leading to frequent disruptions in the power supply. The business owner urged the community leaders to take decisive actions to resolve the issue, as it has been causing inconvenience. He noted that in the past six months, the power outages have significantly reduced, which affects businesses selling perishable goods like fish, turkey, and chicken, as well as other residents in the community, Abubakar concluded.

Community Leader

Muhammad Ali, a member of the Gaa-Zaka community, addresses the recent issues with low voltage in the area. He highlights that this concept has been a regular agenda item in their weekend meetings. While he professes ignorance about the recent power situation, the ongoing lack of electricity in the community is troubling. The persistent power outages hurt his daily routine, particularly as owning a shop in the community has been a longstanding aspiration. The timing of these challenges has left him feeling disheartened, and he admits to being fatigued with the situation in the community.

“Previously, my shop was situated in the Abemi area, when inconsistent electricity supply compelled me to purchase fuel occasionally to complete the clothing items brought to me by customers. At times, I even took the garments home for ironing due to the unreliable power supply. However, last year, I opted to rent a new shop in Gaa-Zaka for convenience, only to realize it was not as expected. I felt disappointed, but with the community’s reassurance, we are patiently waiting to see what unfolds next”, as expressed by Ali, another affected business owner.

“Rest assured, the situation will return to normal soon. It’s unsettling to live in darkness, with no light in sight, making everything seem gloomy. While I am personally troubled by this, it’s beyond my control. It was proposed in our previous meeting to seek assistance from the government to restore our electricity. It’s frustrating to deal with these recurring issues, but reaching out for help is key to overcoming them. Let’s hope that the electricity in our community, including the contribution from a Gaa-Zaka community, will be restored to its usual state”, a member of the Gaa-Zaka community stated.

Experts’ Opinions

Mr. Daud Musa, an expert in electrical works opines that “the issue at hand is not the government’s or power suppliers’ fault, but rather their operational methods. Different communities experience varying schedules for power outages, which may not be apparent to everyone. While one community may be experiencing poor electricity, another community could be enjoying an uninterrupted power supply. Time is a crucial factor in their operations. In the case of the Gaa-Zaka community, there seems to be an anomaly as their situation has never been this dire before. It is possible that there was a fault that needed rectification. Reports suggest that there is a fault in the Madi Community that Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) is diligently working to resolve, although the repairs may take up to three months. Despite their efforts, there is a lack of appreciation from the community. It is important to show support and gratitude towards them as they strive to improve the situation. NERC is committed to providing better service, and it is essential to acknowledge their hard work. Remember, they are individuals like us, endeavoring to succeed in their roles”.

“Conclusively, in a situation like this, both the government, specifically NERC, and the community need to collaborate closely. As noted, the Kwara State government is making efforts, as evidenced by a recent program where they appealed to electricity officials to address the power issues across the state. The officials assured that they were doing their best to resolve the situation promptly. Nevertheless, the communities, especially those in the capital have no choice but to continue requesting government assistance in engaging with Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission to improve their electricity situations. While the challenge is significant, there is optimism that the government and NERC will come to a mutually beneficial agreement to enhance the quality of life for citizens in the country”, Mr. Musa concluded.

Oluwatoyin Hawal Momolosho is a journalist and works with Confidence News Nigeria