How I got involved in “Nepa Wahala”
I don’t know why, but I hate calling them PHCN. What’s the use of the new name? I got into their trouble in the month of January. How did it happen? It was in my former apartment.
When I moved in newly like 2years back, the lights were on. The meter was reading. I got the meter card from the ‘agent’ and was waiting to pay after the unit ‘kindly’ left for me by the previous occupant had expired-or so I thought.
This was my first time of having a meter attached to my apartment. You know, I used to live in a place on the Abuja airport road where I didn’t know where the meter was. It was a BQ attached to a main building. The occupant of that building sublet the house and paid all electricity charges. I didn’t know I was living in heaven at the time-not having to pay NEPA bill just like in my Father’s house.
Even when I was living at that quiet estate in Lagos close to the defunct “Compass Newspaper company at Isheri to the left and ‘Punch Newspapers to the right, I still didn’t have the responsibility of paying electricity bills. My landlord/landlady did that. But I paid a very handsome rent and had constant electricity.
So you see, I have never been bothered with NEPA/PHCN in my life- apart from those times when we were kids in the ancient city, when we used to beg them not to cut our light from the pole and go with the wire.
So back to this apartment I was talking about, which is a close neighbour to Gwarimpa, Dawaki and co. I noticed after some months that I was still having constant electricity and the units were still remaining. This continued for a year. Then, I fixed my generator to it and in two weeks or so, the unit went to zero. How it came to be, I really don’t know.
But the astonishing thing was, there was still light. This was when I sensed that something wasn’t right. But I just didn’t know how to go about it. So I called an electrician and he told me it was bye-pass-meaning the meter had been manipulated. He further told me that the person using the meter now would be held responsible for all the fraud committed on it. Haaaaa!!!!!
Well, I had the plan of relocating to a new place. I continued living in this dread of having PHCN barge in on me when my troublesome neighbour, the one who messes with witches and wizards’ meeting by choosing that time for her water pumping activity, went to report another neighbour to a fake Nepa official who went round checking all meters and discovered my own, cut my light before I returned from work.
I didn’t even know until the next day, a Saturday when everyone had light and I didn’t. That was when someone drew my attention to it. Lo and behold, my wire had been cut and carried away. The scene of 20years ago when we were kids came to play.
I summoned courage, went to their office and explained. They directed me to their main branch. Turned out that the ‘fake NEPA’ that cut my light initially was just my neighbour’s toothless bulldog. He was not a NEPA official but there are many of them who engage in such illegal activities claiming they work with NEPA. When I visited all the three branches in my area, they didn’t know who came to cut the light, they didn’t go out to work around the time, the person didn’t leave any ‘white paper’ detailing my offence and bill payable-which a real official would have done. But I was in their net already and I was very very guilty as charged. I was ready to pay off the debt but not an outrageous penalty of about 50k. In order not to bore you with details, the trouble, accusations, begging etc started.
It’s like Nepa officials like people entering into their net. They will then drag a whole ‘wahala’ with you(all for money settlement noni, something I wasn’t ready to do), a drama more sensational than what you watch on Africa Magic Showcase.
I begged, explained, promised not to be nonchalant again but they said I must pay the over due charges, pay penalty fees, and then re-connection fees. You can imagine how much it would add up to. The outstanding debt itself was a paltry sum luckily but trust them, they were still ready for a showdown with me because that’s an avenue for brisk money.
When I wasn’t making any headway with them, I went to service my generator(gen gen) and life continued. I had less than 20litres of fuel left at the time. I spent most of my days at work though, so it wasn’t a bother.
That was how I stayed off NEPA for two months o. So, in the spirit of being a good Nigerian, I had to go solve the issue for the sake of the person coming next. I paid off the overdue amount. Still, my light wasn’t restored.
Then as fate would have it, some of their officials came again to the area to cut light again. So, I spoke to them. They took pity on me, reconnected my light and even gave me their numbers. I thought it was finally over. Not knowing they gave me only one line instead of the regular three I was using. Just because I didn’t settle.
I managed that one line for the next few months left. And when others had light on their other lines, I moped when they took my only one line.
So, when time came, just like Andrew did, I checked out of the place.
When I moved in elsewhere, I specifically told the electrician, ‘abeg, check that meter and see if there isn’t any manipulation on it. I don’t want any Nepa wahala again for the rest of my life’. Then, I paid for fresh units. This line too had debts incurred on it before I came. I paid everything. I can’t shout.