Whatever prompted scores of women in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, to take to the streets to protest on Tuesday was no doubt serious. Similarly, any circumstance that could make a couple less inclined to perform an important marital obligation cannot be less serious.
The women, mostly married, stormed the office of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company near the Isaac Adaka Boro Park in Port Harcourt to protest the poor power supply which they claimed had taken a toll on activities in the ‘other room’.
The angry women came from the Mile 2 and Mile 3 axis of Diobu, a densely populated area in the state capital with poor urban planning. Checks showed that most of the residential buildings in the area lacked adequate ventilation.
The aggrieved women had gathered on Dim Street, matching through Wokoma lane, then Wokoma Street, Ojoto, Obaziolu, Egbuagu, Illabuchi, and Azikiwe in the metropolis, singing and chanting choruses to express their grievances over the prolonged blackout.
Marching like soldiers with placards, the protesters barricaded the entrance of the Port Harcourt Disco, lamenting that their husbands barely had time for them at night due to the intense heat caused by the power outage.
Some of the inscriptions on their placards left no one in doubt about how they felt. Some of the inscriptions read, ‘We lack romance with our husbands,’ ‘Our husbands no longer touch us at night,’ ‘No light no payment’, ‘The heat is too much,’ and ‘PHED help us to sleep well with our husbands’.
Speaking to our correspondent, one of them, who gave her name as Chinasa, described the situation as tiring.
The mother of two said, “I stay on Dim Street. This matter don tire me. I’m a married woman with two kids and I want to complete am three, but no opportunity. When you want to touch oga him go complain say heat too much.
“Na that side be my problem o because I don’t want another woman collect my husband. That is why we are telling the government and PHED to help us.
She lamented that many men in the affected areas had been forced to remain outside and not return home to their wives due to the unbearable heat.
“They (husbands) go want to do their thing outside. Then when they return late and you touch them, they will tell you to give them space. If you touch them again, they will tell you to move because the heat is too much. I cannot take it.
“That is why we are calling on the PHED and government to help give us light, especially because we pay our bills every month.”
When our correspondent asked her why the emphasis was on intercourse, Chinasa said, “Yes, it is because that one is my field and I don’t want my husband to go outside. When he goes to work and returns at night, that (intercourse) is what I use to make him happy; that was why I said the lack of it is my problem.
However, another protester, Mercy, who said she was single, said she accompanied her neighbours to protest because she suffered the impact of the power outage.
“For over two weeks now, there has been no power and we have paid our bills. I’m a single lady but the married women are my friends and neighbours. They have been complaining that their husbands no longer touch them because of the heat.
“Also, my soup always goes sour because there is no way to preserve it. Business is also not moving because customers complain that the drinks we sell are not cold
“That is why I joined them to protest. Let them increase the time (duration) of the power supply. Thirty minutes of light is too small. At least when you pay for something, you should enjoy it,” Mercy said.
But a landlord in the Mile Three axis, Nelson Ogbuji, wondered why the Disco denied the area access to power supply when the residents paid their bills promptly.
He said, “We pay the bills but don’t see the light. Three days after collecting their bills, the PHED interrupted the supply for weeks just like that.
“Then when you get home later in the night it would be dark. When everywhere is dark like that, a man would take something to drink to enable him to sleep well.
“But when he touches madam, she would say everywhere is hot. My brother, that is one of the problems. Some men said instead of doing something (sleeping with their wives) in a hot place, they would find their way; it is very unfortunate that PHED is full of disappointment.
“My brother, tell me how can I perform my matrimonial duties when before the air conditioner starts cooling, the light is gone. My wife is fat and you know fat people feel hot easily.”
Commenting on the situation, a medical doctor and public affairs commentator, Alabo Kurubo, said several factors might be responsible for the unwillingness of the men to sleep with their wives.
“It is not only a blackout that will make men stay away from their wives. There is erectile dysfunction which is a problem that men can have.
“Finance is a key component. For a man who does not have money, cannot secure food for his children, and is worried about paying school fees when his salary is exhausted in the first week of a new month, touching his wife may be difficult,” Kurubo said during a newspaper review segment on Wave FM 91.7, Port Harcourt.
He added, “I am just saying that there may be other factors. So, the light we want to shine should not just shine in the bedroom, we want the light in the pocket of the man and other aspects.”
Reacting to the protest and the claims of the protesting women, a public relations officer with the Disco, Livingstone Koko, said the current power situation was beyond the control of the company.
Koko stated, “It is a value chain constraint. It is beyond our control. However, we also share their sentiments and try to let them know that we are working with other players in the industry to ensure that supply is restored.
“It is nothing short of what is being experienced around the country. So, we are aware of the challenge and we apologise and ask them to bear with us.”