Ladigbolu area of Oyo town, Oyo state Nigeria is one of the most revered areas in the ancient town. But if not for Saheed Oyeniran’s compassion, many houses would live in utmost darkness even when there’s public power supply.
In Oyeniran’s area, two transformers serve the entire community with six different lanes, hundreds of modern homes, and at least two welding workshops.
Moreover, neither Oyeniran nor his household has heavy electrical appliances that would make electricity a ‘must-have’ for them, judging by what other houses use. “I can’t remember the last time I watched the TV,” He said while struggling to point out any inevitable thing he does with electricity.
“I discovered that during rainy seasons mostly, at least, one out of three lines of the transformers is always disconnected from the transformers. It means that more than 50 houses wouldn’t use electricity until it is restored”.
By no means is Oyeniran an electrician or an Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company member of staff. Still, he is touched by the number of young people in the community who rely on electricity to make a living. Whenever it happens, everyone goes on with their lives and waits for an imaginary technician to help out, even if they make zero effort to reach any.
“We have many young people here who are computer specialists and work from home with their laptops. These people wait desperately for electricity. The best thing we can use to help them is to provide them ease of doing their job by ensuring that they enjoy the power whenever NEPA brings it,” he believes that such determination is the best way the community could prevent crime and social unrest in the area.
So, Oyeniran has been the single person standing, bringing on board technicians to fix the power supply amid disrespect from the people he’s trying to help.
“Anytime there’s a phase off, I try to assess what exactly is causing the outage to know who to call. Sometimes, it could be IBEDC officials or an experienced technician.”
“When we ask most households to pay to have their lights restored, they turn me and few people rallying round with me to joke.”
Most of the few people in the community supporting him anytime this happens have either left the area or given up because of the level of indifference the people they are selflessly serving are to the help they were rendering.
As high-profile as the community is, many inhabitants would not pay when Oyeniran asks them to contribute to compensate technicians to fix their power. He resorts to settling them with his own money.
“I remember going to a home to request just N500. I told them what the money was for, and their body language wasn’t encouraging at all. They said someone would bring the money, but no one did so till today. I can’t count the number of people who don’t cooperate. It is worse when they see me as a disturbance rather than a helper.”
“I don’t even expect any reward from anyone. But so long as our young people who rely heavily on electricity to make a living are enjoying it, I think I am satisfied”, he reveals.
He has been a lifesaver
Bisi Lala also lives in the community and wonders how Oyeniran has passionately carried a community burden on his head.
“What surprises me is how many community members will be calling him on the phone whenever there’s a power phase off as if he works with NEPA (the old name for IBEDC), ” she says.
She wonders what the supposedly influential people are doing to encourage him.
“If this man leaves this area, he will leave a very huge gap. He abandons his daily life to come through for a community. He is truly a lifesaver. So many times my children had prayed for him because they wouldn’t have enjoyed electricity without his intervention”.
So long as Oyeniran is in the area, he says he will continue to render invaluable support. He relishes the joy that accompanies families who don’t have an alternative power supply seeing their light restored.