Abandoned in the Murtala Mohammed Road business area, Ilorin is a 500 KVA electric transformer. Residents say the transformer was installed to boost the power supply in Magaji Aare Ward 2 community.
However, instead of this laudable purpose, the lifeless transformer currently occupies a piece of land that could have been serving other purposes.
In 2020, Sen. Ibrahim Oloriegbe, a lawmaker representing Kwara Central, facilitated the supply and installation of transformers in his senatorial district at N40 million.
Information from the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation shows that all Zonal Intervention Projects in 2020 have been fully cash-backed.
UDEME, a social accountability project of the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), gathered that the project was awarded to Blossom Concept LTD, and the transformers have been installed in four communities: Abata Shuban Abikan, Abayawo, Ogunmoroti, and Magaji Aare Ward 2.
Residents say the transformers were delivered and installed in 2021 and connected to the grid in early 2022. However, while the transformers in Abata Shuban, Abayawo and Ogunmoroti are working, the one in Magaji Aare Ward 2 stopped working a few weeks after installation.
Unfortunately, no one seemed bothered, partly because the residents did not connect to the transformer even after installation.
No need for a new transformer
Residents of Magaji Aare Ward 2 told UDEME they did not request for or need the transformer; therefore, they have no interest in facilitating its repair.
One of the shop owners, Anuoluwapo Oyewo, told UDEME that many of the business owners in the community were surprised at the installation of the transformer since they had no problem with their previous transformer.
“We didn’t have any electrical problems before now,” he said. “We were even surprised when they brought it, and it’s not even working now.”
Another business owner in the community, Isola Balogun, complained that the transformer was connected to a poor transmission line and that none of the community members was connected to it even when it was still functional.
“People said the line (transmission line) they connected it to is very poor. They sought people’s opinion before the connection, but we did not agree with that line because it’s not stable,” he said.
Some other residents, however, speculated that the transformer was installed to serve the lawmaker’s private hospital, Oloriegbe Diagnostic Centre, which is a stone’s throw from the transformer’s location.
When UDEME visited the diagnostic centre, officials, who refused to reveal their identities for fear of victimization, confirmed that the diagnostic centre was connected to the transformer and that it was their primary power source before it developed faults.
“They put it to work before, but it stopped working.”
Reacting to the allegation by residents, Hafsat Abdulraheem, the Legislative aide to Mr Oloriegbe, debunked the claim that the transformer was installed majorly for the diagnostic centre.
Mrs Abdulraheem, a lawyer, explained that the community solicited support in repairing one of their transformers, but the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) recommended that a new transformer be bought to shed the load on the previous one.
“They requested repair of the transformer. When we went to the Ibadan Electricity Company that was supposed to execute it, they said, number one, they can’t repair that one because the load on it is too much.”
She, however, failed to provide the letter requesting transformer repair, stating that it was not correctly documented.
Mrs Abdulraheem stated that the diagnostic centre was only connected to the transformer because it is in the same area and that the transformer’s location was not the initial place they had in mind, but the resistance from community members, who did not want it on their land, made them install it on the location.
“Nobody wanted transformers in front of their house. They said they don’t want transformers, not to attract thieves to the front of their house,” she said.
She added that the line connected to the transformer at Magaji Aare ward 2 was based on IBEDC recommendation and not for personal benefits.
“That’s an IBEDC recommendation. If it was for his own (the legislator) benefits, why would he do something that is not good for himself?”
Who should repair the transformer?
In a thread on its Twitter handle in April, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) explained that Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) are responsible for fixing transformers.
“Faulty transformers are supposed to be replaced by the Electricity Distribution Company (DisCo) within forty-eight hours of the official complaint being made. The Electricity Distribution Company (DisCo) is responsible for such replacements or repairs.”
When UDEME visited IBEDC’s office to enquire why the newly installed transformer at Magaji Aare Ward was underperforming, one official, who identified as the Public Relations Officer but declined to identify himself, said they do not grant interviews except there’s a directive from their headquarters in Ibadan.
“We don’t grant interviews to journalists except there’s an approval from Head Office in Ibadan,” he said.
Nigerian Student Commits Suicide
A 300-level student of the Federal University of Technology Akure, FUTA, in Ondo state, Olona Joseph Oluwapelumi, has reportedly committed…
80-Year-Old Nigerian Journalist, Dayo Duyile, Becomes The Oldest Man To Bag PhD From UNILAG
An 80-year-old Nigerian journalist, Dayo Duyile, has become the oldest man to bag a PhD from the University of Lagos….