Niger Delta Power Holding Company Limited (NDPHC) has continued to receive solidarity and support from well-meaning Nigerians across the country in the aftermath of the coordinated destruction of its public assets, instigated by some suspected hoodlums.
The spate of this destruction is quite disturbing. Especially with the new revelation that six transmission towers belonging to NDPHC have been destroyed in the last three months. As expected, this has disrupted power supply and cost billions of naira in repairs.
The necessity of reinforcing the message of communal ownership of critical infrastructure cannot be over-emphasised at this juncture. The infrastructure that governments develop is done with taxpayers’ money and is therefore owned by the people.
This is a passionate appeal to members of the public, especially ‘our dear hoodlums’, to regard public infrastructure as a commonwealth and strive to jointly always protect it.
Though the role of the law enforcement agents in safeguarding these properties are quite enormous, they must also put in more efforts to deter economic criminals who vandalise NDPHC assets.
After seeing the ugly result of the destroyed assets, Nigerians described the attack as “mind-boggling”, noting that the violence was deliberately contrived to hurt Nigerians.
The proportion of the destruction was too much for NDPHC to bear, considering that the cost of rebuilding the assets would bring about discomfort to residents and citizens whose businesses are tied to usage of power supply.
A statement by a Media Adviser to the company, Adesanya Adejokun, noted that the ‘unrelenting’ attacks on the power infrastructure by economic saboteurs was leading to the inability of Nigerians to access adequate electricity for economic growth and prosperity.
In recent times, the statement said several projects being embarked upon by the NDPHC had been attacked and contractors either killed or maimed by attackers.
While stakeholders have strongly condemned any form of brutality on assets, they also passionately appealed for a mind-reorientation of citizens.
If my guess serves me right, this destruction was engineered to hurt this blooming energy company and its economy.
“We condemn the excesses of the suspected hoodlums, who have taken to violence. There is no need for the violence”, a resident said.
The power company had stated that on September 3, 2022, some miscreants attacked and vandalised the 330kV DC Afam – Onne Transmission Line in Gbake community of Ogoniland, River State.
According to the statement, the vandals cut down four transmission towers (T19, T20, T21 and T22), dismantled them and carted them away.
Again, on October 10, 2022, it stated that the vandals attacked and destroyed two additional towers on the same 330kV DC Afam – Onne Transmission Line.
However, during a third attempt, NDPHC stated that luck ran out on them as efforts of vigilante members, buoyed by security operatives paid off, resulting in the arrest of nine of the miscreants. “They have since been charged to court to face the full wrath of the law,” the company stated.
In addition, during a routine patrol on the night of November 25, 2022, it noted that vigilance groups again encountered vandals along the same Afam-Onne 330kV DC Transmission Line.
The security men, it said, called for military reinforcement, but noted however that before help came, one of the guards was shot and later died.
“Incidentally, this line connecting Afam to Onne in Port Harcourt is the first 330kV double circuit transmission supply line to the capital of Rivers state.
“The persistent attacks on the line have caused substantial damage to the transmission line project and it will take huge sums of money to effect needed reconstruction and repairs in addition to resultant delays on delivery time,” NDPHC added.
It quoted the Executive Director, Corporate Services at NDPHC, Nkechi Mba, to have commiserated with the deceased guard’s family promising that the company will support them in their moment of grief.
“The company is grateful for his gallantry in the line of duty and we hereby pledge support for his family in this moment of great sorrow. We will be relentless in hunting these vandals down, particularly those who assassinated the young man,” the ED noted.
The vandalisation of Power Holding Companies is common in this part of the world, and it is quite heart wrenching. This destruction, a disturbing style of destruction of key assets can be likened to the manner with which Boko Haram carries out its attacks on public utilities.
Unfortunately for the perpetrators, the attacks will not weaken the Power Holding Company’s ability to turn around its misfortune to opportunities. They may bet it, the company would come out stronger and better.
Finally, this is a passionate appeal to young people across the country to always use non-violent means to express their grievances. Destroying infrastructure meant to serve the public shouldn’t be an option in public protest.
Olamide Adeniji is a member of the editorial team of TheScript Newspaper