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Uses and Misuse by People in 'Power'

Admin
Saturday, 04 August 2018

Mr. Fashola says power firms are sabotaging the economy. And the discos say to him “You’re telling lies,” “Ask Discos to recapitalize, he tells NERC. and end estimated billing; enforce metering,  his ministry also asks NERC. He backs the consumers vow to resist disconnection by Discos, while the Discos claim that consumers owe them N1.3trn.

 

These headlines point to a terribly sick power sector, Nigeria, claim a population of 198 million people, it generates less than 5500MW and distributes less than 4000MW on most days. Without independently verifiable statistics to back these claims by either party, Nigeria is doomed to power management by the wrong set of power investors and managers

South Africa has less than a quarter of the Nigerian population meanwhile she generates over 45,000MW. Nigeria touts itself “the giant of Africa” Amid the cacophony of conflicting claims, the Buhari administration insists it inherited a power generating system which had the capacity for about 5000MW, but which delivered only about 3500MW to consumers. His spokespersons try to pass over a lie that they met only 2500MW on May 29, 2015.

All the stakeholders are peddling the lies deliberately or inadvertently, the Federal Government, the Power generating companies, the Distribution Companies (Discos), the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the transmission companies, and the consumers. None tells the truth and the whole truth at all times, and that explains why the problems being experienced here are even more difficult to deal with

it is true that even if all the producing units operate at full capacity Nigerians will still not be guaranteed uninterrupted power supply 24/7. Previous administrations, as well as this one, have allowed a situation to exist which has brought us closer to the situation that makes the consumer ready to battle Discos over the estimated billings while the Discos are threatening mass disconnection in retaliation for refusal to pay the bills.

According to newspaper reports, “these controversies could have been averted if only all the governments had established policies that made it mandatory for power suppliers – from ECN to PHCN to Discos to procure minimum quantities of meters every year as part of their operations.

Reports say “Unfortunately, unthinking Federal Government officials and Disco negotiators (chose) not to foresee the problems now the results from failing to take these steps has created room for millions of consumers, “not all honest people”, to take shelter under estimated billings and so refuse to pay the Discos but to instead negotiate with corrupt Disco staff to consume more power than they pay for”.

The Federal Government deserves the blame for this situation. Long before the Discos came into the picture, They refused to put in place the machinery for a structured privatization process. The instructions to NERC on recapitalization, estimated billing and metering reflect the fact.

On the other hand, NERC seems to have become more sympathetic to Discos than it is to the consumers. It is not an unbiased umpire. Otherwise, these instructions should not have been necessary. A report says “NERC is indeed the organ which should have negotiated with the Discos and imposed if need be, the number of meters each Disco must procure annually until every consumer is metered. But, the NERC is a toothless bulldog and its managers are probably compromised. If Nigeria had a purposeful NERC, what we should have by now is the sharp and steady decline in the number of consumers still experiencing estimated billing. The FG would not need to get involved anymore.

The report concludes, “there must be something seriously wrong with the power sector when Discos call the Minister of Power a liar and ask him to provide “evidence” to back up his claims”.

About IWIN

The Independent Energy Watch Initiative (I-WIN), an enterprise of Energy ConServ and the Roundtable for the Growth and Development of Power (RODEP), is an online/web based power sector portal that strives to engage stakeholders and the Nigerian public on topical issues in the power sector.

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