by Emmanuel Onwubiko
Even the most hardened opponent of this government will agree that NERC has started a radical revolution that is unprecedented in the political annals of this country. The DISCOs were further warned that failure to comply with the 14-day ultimatum …
Miss. Asabe Abdulsalami (not real names) is a 26 year old graduate of Industrial Chemistry from one of the upscale privately run universities owned by one of the very flourishing Pentecostal churches. She recently graduated in flying colors and served in one of the high profile federal government agencies. Upon completion of her compulsory one year national service, she was retained on merit as a full time staff even as she is now living in a two -bed room apartment in Maitama district, courtesy of her very successful industrialist father.
Although surrounded by opulence, Asabe has a big problem staring her in the face on account of the epileptic electricity power supply in her domain — a problem that afflicts all segments of the society across the country.
One day, this writer engaged her in a meaningful dialogue regarding the state of poor electricity supply and she lamented that although she has seen little improvement in the supply of electricity in Abuja, the issue of exorbitant tariff charged for this services by the Distribution Services Companies known now in the common parlance of DISCO has become a fundamental burden to the generality of Nigerians.
She is of the opinion that it will be more logical for the nation’s policy makers to improve the quality and scope of distribution of electricity power in all parts of the country before playing around with the idea of increasing tariff as according to her, argument by the National Electricity Regulatory Commission [NERC] that increasing the tariff to be charged for electricity supply is key to attracting the much needed foreign investments in the electricity sector amounted to ‘putting the cart before the horse’.
I have therefore decided to intervene in this raging debate to present all sides of the arguments for purposes of clarity and for Nigerians to decide what is best for us as a nation that has perpetually remained in darkness while other nations, even in Africa (South Africa) have gone far.
NERC’s chairman, Dr. Sam Amadi has demonstrated more than enough evidence as one public officer who is constantly on the side of the people and who believes that only the best decisions that serve the public interest should be implemented.
In the next couple of weeks I will dedicate my column to this debate. I am aware that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission – NERC has issued a 14-day ultimatum to electricity distribution companies (DISCOs) that are in violation of its order to submit a list of all customers who paid for meters since January 2011, and commence metering them with immediate effect. It says, “Any DISCO that does not comply with this new directive will be barred from collecting the new electricity tariff”.
In a letter dated 19th July, the Commission expressed its utter dismay that all DISCOs have been in complete violation of the order as it relates to customers who have made payments within the given time frame, and have not been identified for immediate metering, pointing out that “NERC views this conduct as totally unresponsive, and undermining the effort of the reform”.
Recall that NERC had earlier in the year issued an order on CAPMI – Credited Advance Payment for Metering Implementation. CAPMI was a response by the regulators to address the lingering issue of non-issuance of meters by the electricity companies. CAPMI also allows for any interested and willing customer to advance money to their electricity distribution company and in return will be given electricity credit until the cost of the meter has been recovered by the customer.
The CAPMI Order, amongst other things, stipulates that all distribution companies should forward to NERC, data of all customers who paid for meters but had not been supplied. It will be recalled that in 2011, a N2.9 billion metering intervention fund was made available to the companies with a view to closing the unacceptable metering gap. One year after, no appreciable progress was made by the companies, and this compelled NERC to demand for performance reports from the DISCOs. Eight of the twelve DISCOs submitted reports that fell short of the requirements of NERC. The rest did not submit any report of how they spent the money.
Even the most hardened opponent of this government will agree that NERC has started a radical revolution that is unprecedented in the political annals of this country. The DISCOs were further warned that failure to comply with the 14-day ultimatum would also compel the Commission to institute enforcement procedures that may result in the removal of a chief executive officer of an electricity distribution company.
This is indeed cheering to the public ear.
Read this article from the Leadership Newspapers
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