Another protest rocked Egbin Power PLC on Monday (yesterday) as traditionalists led the residents of Egbin community to protest at the power generating company’s gate against what they termed, ‘injustice’.
The protesters emphasised that they are the only host community of the company and that the company must recognize them as such and must address issues of their rights which they alleged are being denied them by the management of the power company.
THE IMPACT gathered that the community embarked on the protest when they heard that the power company would be distributing 60 tricycles and other empowerment benefits among Egbin, Ipakan and Ijede residents based on a particular sharing formula which they were not pleased with as the host community.
While residents carrying placards with different inscriptions stayed metres away from the thermal station’s gate, the chieftains of the Osugbo Cult in Egbin community assembled at the company’s gate sealing it up with traditional sticks.
The traditional chieftains sang and cursed the company for denying them their rights. Some of them were seen seated on mats spread all over the frontage of the power station’s gate with ritual materials.
Among the inscriptions on the protesters’ placards were, “Egbin Power PLC, Please, note that the rightful owners of Ipakan land demand for their entitlements”, “Egbin Power PLC, stop creating towns within our town. We know ourselves”, “Lagos State Government, it is time for boundary delineation”, “Egbin as a community has suffered a lot, give us our rights”, among others.
There have been running battles over the years between the Egbin Power Station PLC and Egbin town and other communities over entitlements and power supply.
Police officers were seen inside their van parked close to the power station’s gate while the protest went on peacefully.
Princess Adejoke Oyebo, one of the leaders of the protest, said that the protest was against injustice allegedly meted out to them, adding that the power station has over the years failed in discharging its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to the community.
She said that the entire 623 hectares of land on which the Egbin thermal station is sited were acquired from five families in Egbin Kingdom.
“We are protesting against the Egbin PLC because of its failure to discharge its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to the Egbin community”, she said.
“We got to know from a very reliable authority that the company is planning to do an empowerment programme for host communities and they are planning to share the empowerment items equally among these communities.
“There is nothing like host communities. What we have is the host community because they acquired the lands from our fathers. There is no single part of the acquired land that belongs to Ijede.
“Ipakan, who are originally our ‘Elebekos’ (tenants), has ceased to exist on the original lands that our fathers asked them to settle on. In actual fact, their present location is also Egun land known as ‘Oko Elebun’ (a place where you can find big snakes). This is also reflected in our song of praise (oriki).
“The acquired lands were from no other community but Egbin. Five families signed the 623 hectares of lands in 1981 to Lagos Thermal Station.
She said that part of their grivances is that Egbin Power Station management is treating those she called their tenants, as equal to them.
“lt is unfortunate that Egbin PLC is treating those that are our tenants equally with us. This is something that we detest and want corrected.
“The protest was to stop injustice done to us by Egbin Power PLC. They are creating communities within our own community which is wrong and unacceptable”.
She said that the people of Egbin can no longer engage in farming and fishing which are their traditional occupations because of the adverse effects of company’s power plant on their rivers and lands while also alleging that the power company .
“Egbin’s plant has adversely affected our aquatic nature. The power plant has turned our water into a very hot one, thereby, preventing fishes from surviving in our environment. This has prevented our residents from engaging in their traditional occupation which is fish farming. The situation has taken away our economic power.
“Same thing with farming which our people also engaged in before hectares of lands were acquired for the thermal station and today, we no longer have land or space to farm.
“In terms of employment, the company has also not been responsive. We have serious employment issues but the company is only taking our residents as gardeners, janitor, cleaners and other lesser jobs, whereas, the important positions are reserved for those that are not indigenes”, she alleged.
“These are the injustice that we decided to put a stop to with this protest”, Princess Oyebo said.
Some of the residents that spoke with THE IMPACT said that they have not felt the impact of the Egbin Power PLC in the community since its existence.
They said that Egbin, as an ancient community, was without a public school until the Obateru of Egbin established one (tuition free school) about three months ago.
Some of the protesters also said that the company is not considering them for employment and empowerment.
THE IMPACT gathered that a peace meeting was called while the protest was going on at the instance of the company at the Obateru’s palace to resolve the issues.
It was also gathered that the company was represented at the meeting by top management staff while the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Ijede and a Lt. Colonel were also in attendance.
However, the meeting was said to have ended in stalemate as nothing was achieved.
The meeting was said to have been postponed until the arrival of the Egbin monarch, His Royal Majesty, Oba (Dr) Akeem Oyebo who was said to be out of town.
We were yet to get the side of the Egbin Power PLC on the issues as at the time of publishing this story.