By Chinwe Onwosi
Residents of Afikpo North Local Government Area (LGA) of Ebonyi State on Friday October 16, 2020, staged a peaceful protest against the more than 10 years of blackout in the town.
Cashing into the #EndSARS protest rocking the country, The Voice gathered that more than 500 youths from the LGA, organised by Mr Enyum Ogbonnia Amaechi, abandoned their business to join others in chanting songs as they made their way from Amuro Mgbom community primary school field to the council headquarters.
They carried placards with inscriptions such as “Ebonyi State’s second biggest city doesn’t have light, what a shame! #Restore our light”, “Afikpo political big name is our problem, #Restore our light”, “Businesses are shutting down, thanks to useless leadership, #Restore power in Afikpo” , “I no fit vote for darkness, no light, no vote”, “Na person wey see light de get hope, #end darkness”, “Youths are not smiling, bring back our light, #Restore Afikpo light ”, “We no be witch, we need light”, “Na chair person wey bring light go go second tenure”, among others.
Stating their demands to officials at the council headquarters, one of the protesters, Ewans Ewa Nnali, said the town has been in darkness for more than ten years now, despite being the second most developed city in the state, after Abakaliki, the state capital, with politicians doing nothing to solve the problem
He said: “We have been in darkness for more than ten years now, with our political leaders doing nothing about it, so we are tired of hearing stories. We spend more than N100 on a daily basis to charge our phones or rechargeable lanterns. We are sick and tired of the whole thing. Darkness has been breeding insecurity and underdevelopment in Afikpo for years now.
“Even business have been closing down or relocating. Business owners have been spending more on fuel to stay afloat, leading to increase in prices of goods and services. We can’t take it any more. The issue must be addressed once and for all. We can’t leave here until we get satisfactory answers as to why we have been kept in perpetual darkness.”
Addressing the protesters, the Chairman of the council, Barrister Obiageri Oko-Enyim, expressed gratitude to the aggrieved youths for being non violent and organised in the protest, assuring that the power supply will be resolved before the end of the year.
She said: “Many factors are responsible for Afikpo experiencing epileptic power supply for sometime now. Nevertheless, government has not been resting on its oars in making sure that the issues are resolved as soon as possible. It may interest you to know that Afikpo is not the only place affected. The whole of Ebonyi South is experiencing the same issue.
“Nevertheless, I want to assure you that Afikpo will have light on or before the first week of December. Government is working round the clock to make that possible. I am particularly grateful that you are orderly in your conduct. This is commendable. We won’t take it for granted, so count on us to attend to the issues you have raised.”