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Amadi, NERC Chairman urges electricity consumers to curb DISCO's excesses

By The Citizen

The Chairman, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, Sam Amadi, has said that electricity consumers can no longer afford to sit on the fence if there will be no end to overestimated billing, illegal disconnection, extortion, poor or no power supply.

Amadi made this known at an interactive session with electricity consumers in Lagos.

He said consumers have the obligation to form a platform to curb the excesses of officials of distribution companies.

Amadi called on the consumers to mobilise against the excesses of electricity operators both before and after the takeover by the new investors.

In the no-holds-bar session with human rights groups, among others, Amadi said, electricity is a human right.  He said, 'Consumers must mobilise to make operators do the right thing. Everything in the industry is paid for by the consumers through the tariff system, they therefore have the right to demand for their rights.

'They must form an active platform that will integrate consumers into the processes of making decision to affect them. People must understand the process to be empowered to demand for their rights.'

He said that workers in the electricity companies benefited more from every policy made in the industry and so must be held accountable.

Responding to questions on community efforts in solving electricity problems and overestimated billing among others, Amadi said Discos had adequate facilities and guidelines to take care of the needs of their subscribers as they arose.

He said, 'The answer is corruption in the system. There is no basis for a community to pay for anything. The operators should provide for everything. It is unfortunate that our system is not defined for service delivery. But consumers must reclaim the system one after the other.

'Corruption is the reason PHCN officials think they should use electricity free of charge. Distribution companies complain of inadequate funding when many of their officials have become millionaires feeding fat on bills paid by customers.

'That is why they won't allow prepaid meters to be readily available because it is more profitable for them to estimate billings for you. It is not true that the total revenue they generate goes to Abuja as some of them may claim.'

On increase in fixed charge and tariffs amid poor or no power supply, he said that it was inevitable as an investment into the future of the sector to make it attractive to the private investors.

He said, 'The fixed charge is used to amortise the total cost of running the industry. It will reduce as the industry improves. Tariffs will also go down when Nigeria is able to generate about 20,000MW considering its population. What NERC did was to find out the right price to make electricity affordable and available to Nigerians.

'The irony is that the increase cannot wait until power supply improves. The sector had gone through about 20 years of no plans and no investment, which led to a total collapse by the year 2000.

'The truth is that electricity consumers in Nigeria are still paying an inefficient price seeing the level of degradation the sector had suffered.'

He said that apart from failure to invest yearly in the sector as should be, poor quality corporate governance and lack of sanctions for defaulting officials also resulted in consistent poor service delivery, hence the need to privatise the sector.

There is an exception in every rule.
By: Francis Tawiah --