Nationwide Electricity Provision Advocates (NEPA), a Civil Society Non-Governmental Organisation monitoring the power sector has lauded the suspension of the planned tariff hike by the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) amid the COVID-19 lockdown.
However, the group warned that it would embark on a series of pro-masses civil action if there is no visible change and improvement in service delivery by mid-April.
NEPA in a statement signed by its National President, Abdul Usman Bako, charged the NERC to be proactive and improve on its service delivery by respecting existing agreements between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOS), just as it advised government to “ stop moving the goalposts on the whims and caprices of state actors without altruistic interest in ameliorating the plight of Nigerians long held captive by power sector’s inefficiencies and corruption.”
Part of the statement reads “The government’s GENCO is grossly under-generating power (about 30 percent of Nigeria’s needs!); the FGN’s Transmission Company, the TCN, is not able to transmit even 50 percent of the generated power; and, yet the FGN wants to single the Independent/Private Sector driven Distribution Companies, DISCOS, as the whipping boy to be attacked by all and sundry, whereas it is on the public record that government has failed to live up to its obligations to said DISCOS.
“The FGN, ab initio, forced the DISCOS to invest 75 percent of its funding directly into government coffers with the agreement that government would use these monies to both improve its transmission capacity and create buffers for the DISCOS, including subsidising tariffs in such a way that the DISCOS could attract resources and meet consumers demands for uninterrupted power supply. But, government used all the DISCOS funds to pay off all the staff of the old vovernment monopoly, the PHCN, who had threatened to hold the sector captive if not being fully paid off, unlike Nitel staff who are still suffering even as we speak”.
it noted further that“whilst we understand that government did what it had to at the said time so as to allow for this semi-privatization of the power sector, we absolutely condemn government’s current attempts to make the DISCOS the sole scapegoats for the existing lacuna in power supply to Nigeria.
“The government must wake up to its responsibility not to unilaterally abrogate agreements between it and the DISCOS, pay up the backlog of monies owed the DISCOS as subsidies, compel its MDAs to stop owing the DISCOS unimaginably humongous debts over many years, and also immediately stop trying to help proven mercantilist buccaneers force their way into the DISCOS through ugly bullying and blackmailing methods.
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“NEPA hereby puts the FGN on notice that, if it does not see a visible change in government’s policies and actions which are making it impossible for power to be generated efficiently for the Nigerian people before the mid-April, and Nigerians are made to suffer worse power outages, especially during this frightening Covid19 season, NEPA shall immediately launch a series of pro-masses civil action that will embarrass government.”
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