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Barely one week after the federal government through the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), gave an indication of shifting the first statutory review of performance of electricity Distribution Companies (Discos) to next year, the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) has faulted the postponement.
The regulation governing the concessioning of Discos which took place in 2013, provides that the performance of the concessionaires shall be reviewed every five years to measure amongst others, the performance, level of investments and quality of service, but the BPE has shifted the review without recourse to the provision, thus raising confidence issues for the agency.
Besides, observers say the recent revelation by the World Bank that the country does not have the energy to implement its industrialisation goals, is enough to compel the apex government to review the performance of all concessionaires.
It would be recalled that the bank, in its report titled: ‘Inadequate energy supplies and its implications on African economy’, said electricity shortage has hindered Nigeria from meeting many of the goals outlined in its economic recovery plans.
The report, dated 2017, listed the goals to include creation of employment opportunities for the skilled and unskilled workforce, increasing manpower among industrial workers, provision of healthcare facilities, building of schools, among others.
It added that the Federal Government has not been able to meet these goals due to irregular supply of electricity in Nigeria.
Apart from the statutory review, there are strong indications that the federal government, though the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babtunde Fashola, is plotting to handout a whooping N100bn to the Discos as support grants.
Whereas all the Discos are more interested in sharing the N100bn largesse, there had been rising opposition anchored on the question of the rationale being considered by government in giving grants to private companies who had at bidding for the enterprises, signed that they all have the financial wherewithal to reposition the sector.
However, in the last five years, there had been steady rise in complaints of bad quality of service, throat-cutting estimated billings, Snail speed distribution of prepaid meters and poor injection of funds to their businesses.
Only Wednesday, serious protest rocked the performance of Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) over poor services across the four states under its undertaking.
In his speech at the protest, the President, Edo Civil Society Organisations, one of the Civil Societies Organisations (CSOs) in the alliance, Mr Leftist Agho, decried lack of improvement since the private company took over the distribution of power in the zone.
According to him, “Since takeover, the BEDC has not recorded any discernable improvement or added value to what it met on ground. Nigerians in the affected states have been groaning under heavy estimated and crazy bills, deliberate non-supply of meters and molestation of consumers with military personnel.
“There is also the refusal by BEDC to connect communities to the national grid, non-provision of transformers, poles and other ancillaries, creation of special electricity lines for certain institutions and individuals, while the majority are served total darkness among other inefficiencies numerous to outline.”
“While Edo, Delta, Ondo and Ekiti people are waiting for the end of the terrible activities that BEDC have dealt on them for over four years running, it was shocking to read in the print and broadcast media of the purported plan by the BPE and the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to extend the performance agreement with additional one year which hopefully will elapse in December 2019.
in his submission, Agho joined the rising number of Nigerians against the planned shifting of the five-year performance review scheme.
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