Electricity distribution companies in Nigeria are not only facing challenges of energy theft from illegal consumers but their operations are highly challenged by huge debts from various government agencies and departments.
Despite the assurances by Minister of Power and Housing Babatunde Fashola that such debts would be verified and paid the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED) has just revealed that ministries, departments, agencies and the Nigerian Army are still owing the Distribution Companies (DISCOs) about N60 billion.
Mr. Sunday Oduntan, the Executive Director of ANED, who made the revelation said in Abuja the army owed Benin DISCO N2.3 billion; Eko, N1.9 billion; Ikeja, N1.6 billion; Jos, N2 billion; Kaduna, N6.6 billion; Kano, N301 million; Port Harcourt, N1.3 billion and Yola, N435 million.
Oduntan said out of the N60 billion owed to the companies, army’s total debt stood at N15 billion.
He expressed dissatisfaction with the situation, particularly the army.
He therefore urged the Federal Government, especially President Muhammad Buhari; to assist the distribution companies to ensure that army paid its energy bills.
According to him, power sector requires 40 billion dollars to ensure adequate, reliable and stable power supply in the country.
He added that the companies had improved on their facilities by installing smart prepaid meters, taken customers’ enumeration and installing new technologies for adequate electricity.
Oduntan explained that the DISCOs had made adequate plans to ensure safety in the electricity industry, adding that the facilities in the sector could absorb new 10,000 megawatts, if generated.
He expressed concern that many customers did not want to pay their electricity bills, adding that this was hampering the sector.
Oduntan urged electricity consumers to settle their bills as this would help to develop the sector.
On how the budget will impact the industry, Oduntan said it would be difficult to measure impact of budget on Power Sector
He said he could not measure the impact of the budget on the power sector until it is broken down and Nigerians know how much goes to the power sector.
According to him, the budget is not broken down so I wouldn’t be able to assess how it would impact the electricity power sector. But remember that among the value chain, government needs only to fund the transmission. Actually what we need from the government is conducive policies and environment, encouragement of direct foreign investment into the power sector”.
“The government should also encourage investors in the sector, ensure steady and adequate supply of gas to power generation stations because if the power stations generate more power, the distribution companies will have more power to distribute. What Nigerians need is let there be light.”
He said whatever is allocated to the power sector may not matter much, saying what matters is, “let the allocation be judiciously utilised. What matters now is let every stakeholder do what is supposed to be done.