The name Mr. Curtis Nwadei, the Business Manager of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) Agbor Business Unit, needs no further introduction to members of Ika community especially with the out cry against estimated billing on majority of the populace and the issuance of prepaid meters to electricity consumers in Ika land, a struggle which later resulted in the “Protest of the year”, on Tuesday January 31, 2017, when members of Ika Landlords and Landladies Association, Nigeria Bar Association, Civil Society Group, Traders Union, National Union of Road Transport Workers, National Youth Council of Nigeria, as well as residents came out in their numbers to protest against what they referred to as “Unending Oppression of electricity consumers in Ika land by the authorities of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC), where they sought to hear from the Agbor District Business Manager of the company Mr. Curtis Nwadei, on how to resolve the issues raised by the masses.
With the news of the transfer of Mr. Curtis Nwadei, the Business Manager of BEDC Agbor Business Unit, who served for two years and a month in Ika land, was a great shock to most electricity consumers within the Metropolis and environs.
Indeed, Mr. Nwadei, who can best be described as a God fearing and proactive administrator resumed in Agbor Business Unit as the Business Manager of BEDC in February 2016, when the power supply from Irrua in Edo State can best be described as epileptic and of very low voltage, but with his visionary leadership skill and commitments to achieving set goals most communities in Ika land has witnessed great transformation of stable and high voltage of electricity supply.
Ika Weekly Newspaper reporters in a bid to understand what must have prompted the transfer, on Friday March 30, 2018, visited the BEDC office by Uromi Junction for an interactive session with Mr. Curtis Nwadei. Here are Excerpts of the chat.
How exactly sir will you describe your transfer?
Transfer is part of every man’s working career, you are employed from a station and you are moved to a different station. It is still part of the job from one deployment to the other, hence it is something everyone should be ready for.
How will you describe your experience in Agbor Business Unit?
My experience in Agbor will ever remain in my CV, whichever way anybody wants to look at it.
No matter how bad a person is, be patient with the person, you will see the good aspect and tap into it. The people of Ika nation were very wonderful in the two years and one month I spent here, we had our differences, which is normal, without them the success story will not be complete, after the differences we still came together to agree.
When I came to Agbor in February 2016, the area was still getting their source of supply from Irrua and when it comes at all, it was like a candle light. April same year God intervened and ever since then electricity supply has been wonderful in Agbor.
I see this as an opportunity to make a valedictory statement on my two years and one month stay here in Ika land, the experience is wonderful I must say.
We are aware of the several attacks from the members of Ika landlords and landladies association and other stakeholders in the community, how were you able to surmount these challenges?
Well, if I tell you that the agitations didn’t make me thick, I am lying, the agitations contributed to my success here irrespective of the distractions they would have caused, I tackled the distractions and moved on as they remain my good friends. In every society you live in, you must expect people like that, if they are not there, you won’t know if you are doing what is right or wrong. It is just that people decided to come together with a common voice to clamour for what they feel should come to them, they are not bad people. I see them as partners in progress even if they decided to do it, in their own way. They are my friends and we will remain friends, that is the truth.
We observed that within the period you were here as BEDC manager there has been great improvement in the area of power supply. What will you say has been the driving force that saw you through all these?
Basically, when generation improves every DISCO is expected to take light to their customers, even though they are not paying for it, try as much as possible to satisfy them, so that even when they are complaining you will say that I have given you light but you are not paying for it, therefore I will reduce the power supply. However, it is not about me, it is about what the country has been able to achieve in terms of power generation and I have done my best by distributing it to the seven local government area that I covered, Ika North East and Ika South being part of the network I cover.
Before now the voltage was low, it has improved as a result of our being switched over to the step down at Azu-Owa, which came on board on the 2nd of April 2016, and it has been greatly responsible for what we are seeing today and I believe that in time to come it will be better than this. Yes, I am very sure of that.
What station have you been transferred to?
I am going to Asaba, we have two business units in Asaba, one is known as Asaba Business Unit, while the other one is known as Koka Business Unit, I am now redeployed to Koka Business Unit as the Business Manager, still in Asaba.
With your experience here, what will you advise your successor?
Well, the advice I have for my successor is that he should take the customers as he takes himself. First and foremost he should always give them their respect. He should empathise with them and by so doing they will have mutual respect for each other. Serve them, listen to them when they come in their droves; this is the only place where I have worked where every customer wants to see the Business manager, I have never seen a place like this, no matter whom you refer them to, they will tell you, I have seen the person, but I still want to see your Oga; so I want to beg him sincerely to always leave his door open, keep his ears to the ground when they come, it is very important. I must confess my open door policy helped me a lot, my phone lines are free for everybody to call me, he should equally do so; that is where he will get some unofficial information that will help him move on, he should see himself as a servant of the people, the size of the office and the size of the place he is covering should not get into his brain, he should listen to them, whether big, small, young or old they have their relevance, that is the truth.
What is your advice to your customers?
They should extend the same hand of fellowship to my successor, pay their bills, don’t fight the staff, feel free to always come to him; I am very sure that he will operate an open door policy.
What are your achievements so far here in Agbor?
It has not been easy for you to be a Manager in a location and you are moved to another location as a Business Manager, very many of us are not lucky and you must have impressed on the management of the company where you are; to say okay that this place, if we ask this man to go there with what he has done here we will get better result, yes. I am moving to Asaba capital territory where we have more commercial customers than in Agbor, by the time I came in here, we had eight major customers in Agbor but thank God today I am leaving a list of fifty-five of them; it is something that I will want to continue with over there; I know I will have more grammarians over there than here, but again that will not be a problem having worked in Benin and Abuja, before coming here, so I don’t see any difference.
Using this medium, what other things do you wish to let the general public know?
The company has an accelerated metering scheme, going on now where we ask customers to pay up their bills, get free prepaid meters. I want to use this opportunity to advise the customers that we are not getting more of them, it’s an opportunity that may not last forever, they should come, the meters are on ground now; come pay your bill, you are not paying for the meter. There are some forms you need to fill even if the bill is bogus we say pay a certain percent then give us when to pay the balance within a specific period of time. So let them key into that, it is still ongoing, they should feel free to come to the office. They should try as much as possible to economize electricity when it is 6:am in the moring; they should try to switch off the light, it helps us to bill them less because it is wastage at the point when you are giving him bill for that period he will say, I didn’t use the light, but he forgets that when he was going to the office in the morning he left the light on. Then fighting BEDC staff while performing their legitimate duties should be discouraged, they should stop using illegal workers that are not BEDCstaff, if anybody comes to them and cannot present his identity card they should feel free to call the police; so these are the areas I want them to really discourage completely, so that together we can achieve set goals.
Any other comment?
I want to most sincerely thank Ika Weekly Newspaper and Emma, the reporter specially for all the assistance and co-operation. I don’t know your publisher but my sincere gratitude goes to him, the wisdom God gave him to establish Ika Weekly Newspaper having been in existence for ten years and some months on the newsstand, I pray that the medium will grow bigger and bigger. You cannot write my history in Ika land, without Ika Weekly Newspaper; so anybody who has been following Ika Weekly Newspaper would have been reading about our activities in BEDC and I want to thank the media house for giving me that platform to talk to the people and we will want to continue with them even when I am out from this place, they should extend that cooperation to my successor. You have Ika people in Asaba where I am going to, I will still want to use the publishing house to showcase myself too because I know that they will read it over there. Please let us continue with this marriage. Please I will want you to tell the publisher that I am begging him to allow you people to always come around to support the man, he is a total stranger to this environment, so he will need your guidance please.