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Leader has unique appreciation for reliable electric service

November 23, 2021 | Wire Staff | OPPD employees, powerful life
Dala Alphonso reliable service
Growing up in Nigeria, which does not have reliable power, gave Dala Alphonso a “greater appreciation for what we do at OPPD and what we have in this country.” Photo by Lindsey Ciurej

Dala Alphonso was awakened at home at 2 or 3 in the morning by his father-in-law, who was visiting the United States for the first time. John asked excitedly, “Do you have any clothes that need to be ironed? The power is on!”

Recovering from jet lag after a long flight from Nigeria, John had awakened early. Now he was going room to room, asking everyone in the family the same question.

Alphonso groggily assured him the power was not going to go off.

“Are you sure?” John asked.

His father-in-law was not the first guest from Alphonso’s home country who was unfamiliar with the reliable electric service of the U.S.

“Here, we freak out if the lights don’t turn on. In Nigeria, people freak out when the lights turn on,” he said.

Reliable electric service

Born and raised in the city of Kaduna in northern Nigeria, Alphonso said he has a “greater appreciation for what we do at OPPD and what we have in this country.”

COM_Dala Alphonso screenshot
On November 23, 1996, Dala Alphonso survived the hijacking and resulting crash of a Boeing 767 jetliner.

Alphonso and his wife moved to the U.S. in 1999 and to Omaha in 2007. The couple has four children, ranging in age from 10 to 24. Currently the director of Application Delivery in Technology, he joined OPPD in 2019.

“In Nigeria, most people need to generate their own electricity, using diesel and gasoline generators. That’s just a given,” he said.

About 1½  times the size of Texas, Nigeria is home to more than 200 million people. Nigeria’s first electric utility was founded in 1929. The African nation has a history of unreliable transmission and distribution of electric services.

Problems with the country’s power supply range from outdated systems to poor equipment maintenance. In a recent example cited by Newsweek, “Nigeria’s national power grid experienced a full system collapse” in May of 2021, “resulting in blackouts across several parts of the nation.”

The majority of the population in Nigeria lives without electricity 20 or more hours a day, Alphonso said. Some do not have power at all. But they still get an electric bill.

Stories of survival

Growing up in Nigeria gave Alphonso a special appreciation of the many benefits of reliable electricity. But Alphonso has a great appreciation for life in general, and for good reasons.

On November 23, 1996, he survived the hijacking and resulting crash of a Boeing 767 jetliner that plunged into the Indian Ocean. Alphonso was one of 50 people who survived; 125 died, including the three hijackers.

“Something deep within gave me an assurance that I was going to make it through,” he said.

Then, about 1½ years ago, Alphonso began a battle with cancer. After treatment, his levels have dropped to where the cancer is almost undetectable. Although he still needs regular tests, but said he’s “in a much, much better place.”

Hear more about Alphonso’s survival stories in the video below by Goswen Visual Marketing.

Terry Zank is a contributor to The Wire and senior digital channel specialist at OPPD, where he has worked for 30 years. He and his wife have three sons. Terry enjoys bike riding, playing racquetball, hiking, watching college football, watching great movies from years’ past, and citing quotes from those movies, much to his family’s chagrin.

Lindsey Ciurej joined OPPD in 2015 and currently works as a digital channel specialist. Her favorite thing to do is spend time with her family and dogs. She also enjoys graphic design, traveling, cooking and sleeping. Lindsey is always up for an adventure. 



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