NEPA Bill Wahala!: Our Landlord's Approach To Tenants' Refusal To Pay Light Bills.

 On my list of victories and successes I had last year (2023), aside from being able to clinch a remote job with an Iranian company on LinkedIn, where I'm being paid 3 million Iranian rials monthly (67k in Nigerian Nair√†), another big one was leaving the "Coast of Darkness" I lived in for almost two years.


A compound that has never experienced the blink of NEPA from October 2021, when I parked in there, until October 2023, when I parked out. Not just our compound, but actually the whole geographical region. The only region where I saw people freely leaning and hanging hands on naked electric wires while gisting and discussing. The only place on earth probably where kids were roughly playing around pole wires and NEPA transformers as if they were in an amusement park.


I feel tempted to mention the name of this place, but for the sake of my age-long idealogy that it is immature to wash the dirty linen of an ex after a breakup, I would keep the name of this place anonymous. Of course, again, so that all these Lagos new takers would have a taste of what I suffered there; that way, what the goose went through, the gander would also testify of.


I won't be the only 'new person in Lagos" who was sweet-tongued by house agents into renting a house in an environment where I had to carry my phones and laptop around like a cursed beggar in search of where to charge.

From barbershops to cybercafé stores, to commercial phone charging shops, to anywhere I noticed or was told that anybody around that neighborhood's generator was on Of course, while absorbing all the mild insults and see-finish that come with "Bros, Abeg, I make plug my system nah" from people who ordinarily won't muster the courage to toast my immediate younger sister,

Well, it was part of the hustle. Shey nah me wan learn graphic design? Shey nah me buy online course? Of course, the sacrifice was to keep up with the offline curse.

And Brethren, just around when I and Monsurudeen, one of the guys who I pester with my phone and laptop charging, finally came to the understanding that I'm simply a "pain in the ass" who will never stop charging his gadgets, no matter the kind of attitude he gives me, our Bobo Cigaco hiked the price of fuel. For full street, nobody come dey on their Gen again.


With a liter of fuel at 750? Ah! Dem no born anybody well to leave the generator on for an unnecessary one minute.


But as usual, as a full-fledged Nigerian with that ingrained ability to customize to any situation, I still kept patching through with my graphic design lessons and the remote job I recently got, until my rent finally expired in October.

I didn't even have to wait until it was the exact expiration date (October 21st) before searching for and parking in this new place. A place I thought would be better. A place I thought nature would use to compensate for all the miseries I suffered in the other place. Somebody help me shout, Dey play.

Actually, there used to be light for the first two to three weeks I lived in this new house. (Of course, even if my left brain undergoes centrifugal condensation, I wouldn't dare rent another house without light.) Truthfully, there was light for my first 2-3 weeks, and even though the light used to last for about 6-7 hours daily, it was still so much for someone that God has lifted from the mire clay.

While other tenants were complaining about the duration of the light, I already planned to optimize those six hours. I bought two Belgian laptop batteries and a 2000KVA power bank, so whenever the light went off, life still went on for me.

Deep inside my heart, though, I was actually still praying that the plan by certain co-tenants, championed by the chief tenant, who has lived in the house since 1995, to connect our compound to a line with better light connection would yield fruit. Brethren, did I even know that the little 6-7 hours we had were going to be at risk of being taken away from us? (Matthew 13:12).


On one hot Thursday, while I was on my system working on a task for one of my clients, I heard quarrels and shouts from one very aggressive voice. A voice as hoarse as that of Nyesom Wike and the accent of a Senegalese who lives in Kajuru LGA, Kaduna State. Angrily shouting, quarreling, and insulting. Ah!

I stepped out of my room, only to disappointedly see this 50-cl Pepsi, a little-statured man with a height in between that of Chinedu Ikedieze and Lionel Messi, with T-junctions (tribal marks) designed all over his face that was making that hell of a noise.

I didn't even pay much attention to the two boys he came with, who were holding an 850-foot ladder and a spanner that spans over 200 km, respectively. Maybe if I paid attention and thought deeper, I would have quickly known that they were NEPA officials, but that was not my point of interest. Three other interesting things caught my fancy instead. The man's shoe, which was spelled Frendi instead of Fendi, his glamorous bald head, and his exuberant potbelly. Only Jehovah can give an accurate estimation of how many crates of beer that man must have taken for his belly to attain such massive height.

Sorry, I can be so silly, but these were actually what I was analyzing (especially the Frendi slippers) before I finally gave ear to what he was saying.

And people of God, it was actually what I heard from that man that afternoon that made me know that, unfortunately, after my struggle-earned successful exit from the kidnapper den I was before, I have again just gained admission into a 'one chance" bus.


It was from the ranting of that man that I learned that the new house I just parked in has an outstanding NEPA bill of over 5 million Naira because they have been owing since July 2017. How my criminal co-tenants have been surviving is through illegal light connections. NEPA will disconnect; they will reconnect. NEPA will disconnect, and they will reconnect.


According to the angry NEPA guy, he said this should be the 168th time (this should be an exaggeration) that he and his team would visit our compound with their ladder, but ladder, sorry, rather than gather money to pay off their outstanding bill, we're trying to show him that no one else is badder. But that was time, and he is out to show us who the real Jigi Jaga is.


I could only imagine the pain of being a failed Trapster who is now also failing at trapping down people who are trapping, sorry, tapping light from their reservoir without paying.


He called on one of his boys, Ferdinand (I guess this is where his FRENDI shoe got its botanical name from), and at once that one understood the assignment; he climbed the ladder and at once did the master's bidding; he disconnected our light.


Finally, before they (the NEPA team) left, their spokesman warned that the next time they would be coming to our compound with their leader, military forces would be joining the radar to use brute force on us (my man was still trapping o).

So in other words, while his boy, Fredinard, will be disconnecting our light, the men he would be bringing from the Elegucci Army Division will at the same time be disconnecting our various bone tissues.



Of course, throughout the tenure of this NEPA man's rantings, insults, and threats, none of my co-tenants responded. None of the cowards said a word.

It was after the NEPA guys left that the hissing and backbiting began. That was when everyone got the opportunity to proclaim whatever rubbish they liked.

One of our idiotic troublesome guys in the compound, popularly known as Maguire, even said that the light disconnection was a blessing in disguise, as that would afford them the opportunity to reconnect to a better NEPA line. Imagine greed in criminality.

And, oh, these guys weren't playing.

Barely 48 hours after the whole drama, the so-called Maguire guy and another muscular dude they call Adama Traore began to go from room to room, collecting what they told me was an "emergency utility bill." I'm pretty sure they were plain about what this utility bill meant to their fellow criminals, but to me, a new tenant with the Daddy W.F. Kumuyi vibe, they had to play smart. I paid innocently, and barely 48 minutes later, our light was restored.

That was when my tongue counted my teeth in milliseconds.


But well, on a brighter side, who rejects light?

And that's what we have been enjoying blissfully throughout November, December, Christmas, the New Year, and up until last night, around 10 p.m. Everybody had returned from their various daily engagements; the working class, business class, and jobless class were all back. And while some tenants were inside resting, the majority of us, as our culture is, were outside gisting and laughing, like university lodgemates. Some scary masked guys suddenly stormed in so ruggedly as if they were with weapons (well, maybe they were).


P.S. Please keep in mind that our gate is usually locked and was locked by 10:30 p.m., and our fence is hedged with barb wires. So how those guys got in was a mystery.


They ordered us to lay down, after which they went into each room to drag out the people that were asleep or resting, and together all of us were on the floor like repentant Al-Shabab terrorists. Then the main operation began.


Two thugs would drag a person up by the left and right hands, respectively, and take the person to their boss, who was sitting by the side of our well. Then their so-called boss would ask for the person's name, room number, age, and phone number, and then go through a book he had on his hands, find the person's details, and bill the individual accordingly.


And of course, the person must pay by bank transfer. Them no born you well. Once payment is certified, he or she returns to the lying-down posture. Then the next person is summoned. Each and every one of us.


Some were billed at 50k, 100k, 200k, 500k, and so on, depending on what was written in that book. I paid 25k, and according to what I heard this morning, our chief tenant, who has lived in the house for the past 15 years, was billed 700k.

We all paid, and certainly, we all cried ourselves to sleep, only to wake up this morning to a WhatsApp message from our landlord, which reads:


"Thank you all for forcefully complying with the NEPA bill payment. May the Lord restore everything you lost."



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