Edo civil activists want BPE D-G removed from BEDC board

Sitting-out: Some of the protesters at BEDC headquarters in Benin

Jethro Ibileke/Benin

The Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), Alex Okoh, has been asked to disqualify himself from the management board of BEDC electricity plc.

Members of Edo civil society organisations (EDOSCO), who made the call, alleged that Okoh’s fraternity with BEDC” is a major reason Funke Osibodu has become so full of herself, arrogant and boastful.”

The group in a statement signed by its PRO, Osazee Edigin, also alleged that some members of the Edo State House of Assembly who compromised the mandate given them by the people by conniving with BEDC.

The civil activists warned that should Mr. Okoh ignore their request, protest against BEDC will shift to his footsteps.

The statement reads: “For over four years running, Edo, Delta, Ondo and Ekiti states residents have been groaning under the poor and oppressive services of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC), without steps to address same.

“The Managing Director of the BEDC, Funke Osibodu, has put up such a boastful and arrogant attitude in response to the incessant complaints and protests from customers and civil society groups in their franchise area.

“It will interest us to know that, the Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprise also doubles as a management board member of the BEDC.

“The Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) is the agency of the federal government that privatized the power sector in 2013 and entered purchase agreements with the DisCos on behalf of the Federal Government; the bureau has the Director-General as the head, which Alex Okoh currently occupies.

“It should be noted that the Federal Government of Nigeria still retains 40% shares of the elecven Distribution Companies (DisCos)across the country, including the BEDC.

“The management board of the BEDC is expected to have a representative of the Bureau of Public Enterprise and not the Director-General himself acting in dual capacity.

“The representative of the BPE is expected to be the eyes of the Federal Government and the people in who’s interests the privatization was initiated in the first instance.

“What has become the feature of Alex Okoh who is the D-G of BPE and a Director in the management board of BEDC which he collects all sorts of allowances and undisclosed personal aggrandizement cannot protect the interest of the Federal Government and the people.

“Alex Okoh is from Edo state and it is disappointing and disheartening that, he has decided to pitch tent with Funke Osibodu in shortchanging his kinsmen and his state.

“As far as Alex Okoh enjoys the position as a director in the BEDC and as the DG of BPE that is legally composed to enter purchase agreement with the BEDC, our fight and struggle in making Funke and her team waking up to their responsibilities will amount to begging the issues.

“Alex Okoh must as a matter of urgency resign as a director in the BEDC or the battle and struggle for the emancipation of the people will berth at his doorstep soonest.”

Reacting to the allegations, the Head, Corporate Affairs of BEDC Electricity PLC, Mr. Adekunle Tayo, described the allegations as propaganda and cheap lies.

He said: “They have embarked on a lot of propaganda and cheap lies to curry the public favour. But, to us, we are a focused people in discharging our services to the people of Edo state.

“The man as the DG of BPE, is on board of all other Discos by virtue of government ownership of 40 per cent equity. So, it’s not only Benin Disco the man is a member, representing the BPE.

“If they don’t have information, let them try and get the correct information they are alleging.

“The issue of being proud and arrogant, I don’t know whether if somebody is insisting that they should not embark on energy theft, or that somebody is trying to say that they have the right to protest but not the right to disrupt business operations, do not vandalise equipment, do not occupy our business premises under the guise of protest, I don’t know whether that one means arrogance.”