Following the industrial strike action embarked upon by the National Union of Electricity Employees {NUEE} at the Transmission Company of Nigeria {TCN} power stations, operations across the franchise area of the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company PLC {EEDC} have been disrupted.

As a result of this development, all our feeders are out of supply and this has affected supply to our esteemed customers in Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo State.

Consultations are ongoing among critical stakeholders in the Power Sector to address this issue and possibly restore supply.

The management of EEDC hereby encourages customers and neighbourhood associations to be vigilant and protect the electrical installations within their environment against elements that might take advantage of this outage to vandalize these installations.

We, therefore, appeal for continued patience and understanding while this is resolved.

Thank you.
Emeka Ezeh
Head corporate communication, EEDC

Sahara Reporters

Premium Times News
August 18, 2022.

In the middle of that night, when I heard the noise of gunshots outside, I ran out of my apartment. Everybody in my compound was also running out. There was a commotion in my Close. The gunshots increased and the shouts of adults and cries of children filled the air. When I discovered that the Bandits have surrounded and locked the main gate that led to our close, I changed direction and headed to a compound by the right side of our close as my mind had suggested to me. I climbed the fence that demarcated our Close to the next street. By now, looking from the fence I sat on, the crowds had thinned and the sounds of the wailers and children had died down a little. But the Bandits were much around shooting people at sight. After a time, I jumped down from the fence to the next street and entered a container that seemed open. It was late at the night and I didn’t know what it was at the time. There was no light and the street lights were broken by the bandits that held the area ransom.

After some minutes, I came out of the container, eyes fearful and searching. I kept walking down the street praying that I would not meet anything else that would alter my movement. I remember that one of my neighbours had hidden his only son inside the Ceiling. I heard when he punched the ceiling open and pushed the small boy inside it. The boy let out a weird shriek but his father urged him to keep shut or else he would be killed by the bandits outside. Afterwards, I heard another sharp sound coming from their apartment. The small boy had fallen from the ceiling, crying. A big rat had run over his legs. He cried. His father pushed him inside the ceiling again. But this time, he spoke harshly to him.

“I am trying so hard to make you stay alive. It doesn’t matter if I and your mother die right now, but you must stay alive” he had said to him.

In that second, came a bullet from outside that shut him up forever. While his wife was trying to hide, another pierced through her head. Both of them fell to the hard tiles, his wife pulling down an iron base that made a heavy noise down in their Apartment. The boy was quiet this time in the ceiling. For a second, I thought he died but when I heard a sound in the ceiling above me after some minutes, I realized he was still alive. Before I ran out amid the commotion in my Close, I prayed for him to stay alive. I don’t know what might have happened to him right now but I know he would live. I said aloud while walking down the street.

I was frightened by the darkness and the lonely sound of my feet on sand and papers littered here and there, but I kept going. As I walked, I wondered if my mind had ever imagined that I would escape. Suddenly, a new fear erupted inside me and engulfed my thoughts like flowing lava. From afar, I saw a figure approaching me. I stopped walking, my eyes searching for where I could hide if it was an enemy. When it came closer, I discovered it was a woman, a pregnant woman. She stopped too when she saw me. She was breathing heavily right in front of me, her hands on her belly rocking back and forth. I quickly walked past her before she would ask for help from me. I might not be in the right frame of mind to help her. What if the baby growing inside her body had just heard the evilness of these men and all my manoeuvrings to hide away from helping its mother? What if she revolts against my own action by kicking against its mother’s belly so as for me to stop and help her? I had thought while walking away hurriedly.

Passing through a clearing, I noticed some whittled sticks pushed into a four-sided pattern on the ground, near a mound of stones in a perfect circle. Farther on, I saw more sticks and stones in the same pattern. I don’t think I have ever noticed that sticks in that street for once ever since I began passing there at noon. When I finally believed that I had walked deeper into the heart of the night and far from my area than I could ever imagine, I walked into an uncompleted building, sat on the ground, and laid a sack I found by the wall of the building for a pillow and lay down to stretch out my legs. It was lone in the night of April 23, and I had taken back my life by myself.

I was there until it was morning before I left to know what has become of my street. When I got there, I saw people gathered. Dead bodies littered here and there. I drifted into the crowd like a child drawn to her mother. I saw a mother shot dead. I saw a father dead too, his hand clung around his son and then I saw a small boy of five or six years old lying close to her mother. I think I had seen him going to school some days back with his mother singing for him. The dead infant was the child I had once been; it was my own lost childhood; it was every person who had been tossed into the unforgiving hands of Nigerian bandits, Nigerian unknown gunmen, armed robbers, and Boko Haram on the endless journey of becoming a Nigerian till death. I often think about these evil men. Then, I concluded that living inside their skins must be so prickly that they have to reach out and make others uncomfortable. I let myself think this way. - it is easier that way. While I hope that my heart would quiet its dance of fright of what is happening here, I fear for my people, those our country failed yesterday, those it would fail today, and those of tomorrow.

Some Nigerians are more like Nigeria itself. They fail you just like Nigeria is failing us right now. I have worked in houses for men from my country who said they would settle me one day. But they didn’t settle me after years of apprenticeship. My brother did too and he was never settled. There is no freedom in this land. Some men here use and dump people. They use and dump you at will. There is nothing here. There is the only food in your belly sometimes and clothes on your back and roof to hold off the rain. Death is the only place that’s free. Those people my country killed and buried sometimes, are on their way home.

You go to work in the morning, circle around, and return home at night when the darkness had fallen. Sometimes, you see your door was broken by armed robbers. The shutters kicked off from your windows. Behind your door are your dead children and wife, heads turn over in the street waiting for your return, the last drops of their spilt blood glistening in the moonlight. After weeping for minutes for their seek, you would follow the blood on the ground into your house. You would see that your house had been ransacked by unknown men. You would see shattered vases and wine racks emptied and kicked into splinters. On the wall of your parlour is a portrait of you and your wife and children, each sitting in a fine chair. The unknown man had ripped through the canvas with a knife. In the morning, the media would not carry news just like they didn’t report the invasion of the bandits in my Close throughout that week because no prominent person lives there.

A few days before the invasion of my street, I was in a police station. Right in from of me, I heard claims against two Nigerians, one rich and the other poor. The poor, who, like me, had been pulled off and ridiculed by poverty, had tears in his eyes. The Rich man’s son had raped his daughter. I learned later. In the end of everything, the poor man— his wife, and the daughter left the police station without getting justice—. I despised a case between the Poor and the Rich, but my greatest contempt was for the Police. Our humiliation meant nothing to them, nor did our lives. Brown envelopes widened their eyes, it makes them absorb all the life that is about to get lost. Every day of my life, I always want to be as calm as a Nkporo villager walking with a bundle on her head but I’m always tainted by the very world in which I live, and from which I too richly hated. I do not want to leave a land where everything seems like they are running away from you even when you hand them in your palm, but neither could I leave when my time has not come.

I drew from my own well of tears, confident that nobody would embarrass me with grief. Many times, in October and December of 2020, I slid onto my knees and called out the names of my friends, my neighbours, and my countrymen who were killed at Lekki tollgate, crying for them as if they had just gone missing with my most recent exhalation. That same year, after all the palliatives made for Nigerians but hidden by the politicians were found in major warehouses in Lagos, Ogun, Abia, Oyo, Sokoto, and other places, the peace, and Joy of Nigerians especially Lagosians, moved to somewhere else. There was a silent storm within us every day. We live with this storm every day of our life. That kind of storm that seeks justice for those who have no means of speaking or talking about the cruel hands of their countrymen that cut their lives short, that kind of storm that seeks revenge and explanation of why everything within the coast of Nigeria has been designed to kill and damage every Nigerian; that kind of storm that tells you that Nigeria has fallen, it is no longer that beautiful or hopeful country you knew her to be years back. It was a silent storm indeed but as pain as a fresh wound on a private part. This is a new Nigeria.

In this new Nigeria, love has become food and shelter. Everybody wants to leave and never return. In this new Nigeria, dreams die even before they are conceived. In this new Nigeria, you are meant to be frustrated by the policies made by those in power and your business crippled by someone who does not know what it takes to set up a business. In this new Nigeria, a cow’s life is more important than your life. In this new Nigeria, nobody cares how you die as long as you have no background and identity. In this new Nigeria, opportunities are only made for the rich and those with backgrounds. If you have no background, you are as good as not living. In this new Nigeria, there is no value for education. If you aspired to be educated, you have no business schooling in Nigeria unless you have money for private institutions. In this new Nigeria, doctors go on strike now and then and the politicians don’t bother as long as UK, Switzerland, America, Dubai, and other countries can throw their hospital doors open for them. In this new Nigeria, the street is military. You either eat or get eaten by bloodthirsty demons roaming around the street, armed.

The Dollar has gone up, and things have become unreasonably expensive. The cost of living is costlier than living itself but the President is gifting a fleet of cars to the Niger Republic and naming a major highway in the name of their President. Kidnappers are on every corner of the street looking for who to kidnap and get a ransom. Many youths have no work but rely solely on betting houses and internet frauds to survive but who cares? Is it the man that said he was going to feed the masses with Agbado, cassava, and corn? Or the man who resides in Dubai? Or the other man who knows nothing about those he called Lazy Youths? Who truly cares? Even those that have work, are frustrated because they are not being paid for the work they have done. ASUU is on strike like they always go every year and students are tired of sitting at home. However, the level of fraudulent Activities has become unbearable. People have to survive by all means. Now, I can dare tell anyone that night here has become our enemy, just as it used to be a friend longed for amid the day’s endless hustle in the streets of Nigeria.

This is where our bodies have refused to create another identity other than the ones given to them. This is a country at war with itself, the definition of Chaos and brutality. My arms would always be around my head, rocking back and forth. Sometimes I have allowed it to rest on my head like a burden. At this very moment, I have willed myself not to think for fear that I would lose revolve of any sort. I know that I will kick, scream, and punch, should anyone question me or stand in the way of my longing for a better life. I prayed for the gift of a healthy home in Nigeria but what I saw now is a Nigeria whose mouth has become the mouth of the Shark ready to devour and kill at will. How did we get to this stage? There is nothing united about land that said all men of its tribes were created equal, yet it keeps them in chains like slaves. It keeps telling us that we don’t belong here but here is our land, the home of our forebears. Yet, this land keeps discriminating, keeps humiliating, and thrusting every one of us back to emptiness.

Right now, in this very moment, I have seen within me and so many people I have come across in the street that we had all lost the diplomacy, all the docility that we had learned through years of being neglected, abandoned, suffered, and unloved, through harsh environments and indifferent treatment by our leaders, through our many years of tending to our wounds caused by our economy even when we worked very hard to see that our trouser does not sag out from my waist. This is not the Nigeria we deserve yet we keep stomaching everything hoping for better days.

I had had faith in Nigeria when I was a young boy of seven years old living in Aba. I have told Mother that I had had to give that faith up and that I wasn’t thirsting for another God in my life. She took my hands and turned to me as if she could see deep into my eyes. On this side, like every other side of Nigeria I have witnessed and abandoned, Lagos seems more like a ghost city for me. I once visited my Sister In-law in Alimosho General Hospital, Igando. Right inside the hospital, I could not breathe. The dumpsites around the hospital made me sick. How could anyone think of building a general hospital in an area like that? I had asked my sister-in-law. She kept mute for some time and later shook her head in pity.

“This is the Land we found ourselves. We can’t rule out the fact that we are all mad here.” She’d said.

Before that day, I was at Lekki phase one. I witnessed an act of jungle justice. A man was burnt to ashes. He was an engineer as I learned. I didn’t stop to ask what had happened. I didn’t stop to ask why he was beaten and burnt in broad daylight because I was trying to wrap my head around Deborah’s death too. She was killed and burnt in Sokoto state by men of flesh and blood, her countrymen. They said she blasphemed against their God and that was why she was lynched by the religious fanatics in the north. What was said or done about her death? I don’t think there was any justice at all. While I was in the uber heading home that night, the man burnt in Lekki Phase one played in my head. He was begging them to give him a second chance to live but they refused. He was on the ground bleeding, remembering perhaps his children or wife or family waiting for his return but they couldn’t allow him to return home. They couldn’t. he was killed brutally by those who were supposed to protect him from danger. Here is a jungle, even hell, I tell you.

The people of Nigeria knew nothing of sleep, or else learned to sleep through the pandemonium. On any given night, you could be kidnapped right in your bed. You could be shot dead by unknown gunmen. You could be asleep and the sound of a gun would wake you up. You can’t sleep in the afternoon either because your children are in school. You have to call their teachers many times to check them up, to know if they are safe if Bandits haven’t invaded the school. You have to call often to check if they have not been Kidnapped. When you hear the tam-tams beating from a drum in the middle of the night mile away, and you could hear people whispering or singing or talking and falling in the streets, and arguments and palavers between neighbours—who killed whose dog, for example, or who made eyes at whose woman, or who refuses to pay NEPA or Security bill. You could hear men beating men, men beating women, and yes, women beating men because he had failed to pay after sex or he has not been providing for his family. And through it, all ring the amens and the hallelujahs of the churchgoers in a church not too far away from your house.

Here, everyone wore his worries on his face, and was sometimes allow it dissolve into tears while discussing the unending Inflation, ASUU strike, unpaid salaries, high cost of living, Prices of things in the market which have gone high, unfavourable Government policies, and police brutality. But neither their tears during the day nor their outbursts at night would prevent them from carrying out their long hours of work in their area of jurisdiction. These are what made them who they are, Nigerians, trying so hard to survive everything without feeling so human about it. I miss all three of my loved ones so terribly that my body, it seemed, was half missing everything I remember that my in-law was once killed at gunpoint in Lagos while he was working to fend for his family. He never came back home. They told us that his body belongs to the government because he was a policeman, until we fought to get his body back.

Nigeria is like a phantom limb, lost but still attached to me, gone but still painful to lose. I stopped looking for what more Nigeria can offer me in return for what I have given to her. I stopped working and eating because the more I hear voices or look at many people with different faces in the street, I came to understand that every expression that each person living in Nigeria carries, there is more to it. For the first time in my life, I had no desire for success anymore, to go to bars, drink or watch women from different parts of Nigeria, laugh, and scream out loud in ecstasy. I even stopped thinking about what I wanted to become because I don’t know if it would ever come to pass. Perhaps my mother was always right. If I was meant to succeed here, there will be nothing stopping me from doing so. I have to conquer myself and understand that there is nothing I can’t achieve by looking at the sun beam with a smile and hope. Yet, there is a price to pay living here likewise a price to pay to escape here to other countries of the world.

That’s what Baldwin called “the price of the ticket”. Some of us have been body-stripped at airports and other points of entry in a foreign country because we are Nigerians with a green passport, we came to expect it. We have been shamed on several occasions in other countries just by seeing that green passport with us. We have been made to remove our clothes in different Airports because we come from Nigeria and as such, are seen as evils, criminals or fraudsters. We had had people not just pat us down but search our underpants and touch our genitals all times, they are searching for where we had hidden the drugs that we’re brought into their country. Sometimes, they put you in that small room in the airport, take your travel documents, and disappear for the rest of the day. So, you not only miss your flight but practically remain in custody for a whole day without charges or explanation.

Besides that, they go through your luggage and steal any cash and other valuable things in your bag (this actually happened to a friend of mine in France). Meanwhile, in some cases, they would ask you if you got your leave to stay by marrying a white person (immigration Lady at Heathrow asked a friend of mine that silly question sometime ago and he called to tell me about it. That actually cracked me up in its meanness).in fact, this whole incident is not peculiar to only white countries but our own ECOWAS black neighbours are victims of this too. Two white men would be walking side by side with a Nigerian in an Ethiopian airport, and the officials would single the Nigerian out among them, take him to a lonely room. Sometimes, humiliate him by asking him to poo in front of them to check if he has drugs in his stomach. He has to sit on the closet for minutes, poo before he could be allowed to leave. In some cases, he is asked to settle or else, he would be arrested for one crime or the other that he didn’t commit. He is a Nigerian and every Nigerian is deadly.

So, merely rummaging through your stuff is child’s play. Staring at you; well, you haven’t spent time in police custody for being falsely accused of theft yet. Just the other week a Nigerian friend, a university lecturer in Florida, was describing how a policewoman accused him of stealing his own clothes that he was taking to the launderette for washing. Here in Nigeria, we think it’s all milk and honey living abroad, and we can’t blame one either. But to paraphrase a Bob Dylan song, it's hard times living in the white man’s land. Next time you see someone who has for decades and still wears it lightly, doff your hat.

The pain of what Nigeria has made me lose never really went away. The limbs had been severed, and they would forever be missing in me. But I keep going. Somehow, I just keep going. Living my life like there is another place I look up to like home. Living my life like there is hope somewhere that would help me forget what I have been through in the hands of those who seek to take away my life and give me nothing but the understanding that I have to find a place better than home.

I have no emotion left to hate anything anymore. Neither is there anyone left to curse at my fate as a Nigerian. But I have sought refuge in numbness as I often did when faced with an overpowering challenge. If God were to ask people whether or not they wanted to come to Nigeria before bringing them in, and told us what we would encounter in Nigeria, and ask us to choose whether to come or not to come, that would have been better than throwing us freely into this land that seek for blood and letting us face with tears and pains. Nigeria is no longer what we grew up to know it. It has been economically damaged beyond repair and those who are supposed to be the backbones are leaving its shore to find a greener pasture, a better home somewhere else.

Many times, I could have died, yet I’m here still, now on the height of yet another journey of adulthood. The dream of my lifetime was finally within reach, and yet it didn’t seem right to take it in 2021. I thought I messed everything up at the embassy. If I ever did make it to the embassy again, I know the one question that people would ask: Are you sure you want to leave Nigeria? I would have to confess that in this land of failed dreams, I had managed to save only myself.

Perhaps one day, I would take what is left of my body, spirit and dreams and join the exodus to America or Canada. There is nothing left for me in Nigeria after this fall. No place in the world is entirely safe for a Nigerian not even home, and that for many of us, survival depended on perpetual migration. But in the comfort of my abode in Lagos, I’ve always found myself less burned by longing for an escape route to the dangers here, perhaps because I had stopped looking for greener pastures in every country I have heard of. Wherever I may be right now, I’ll certainly not going to abandon Nigeria; my home, our home.

John Chizoba Vincent is a film maker, Cinematographer, Video Producer and writer who resides in Lagos, Nigeria.

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