Stakeholders Task Nigerians on Fight against Corruption in Electricity Sector
By Olubunmi Osoteku
Stakeholders have urged Nigerians to remain resolute in the fight against corruption, particularly in the electricity sector, to rid the system of vices and get due services for their money.
This resolution and more were reached at a Town Hall meeting organised by Wadata Media and Advocacy Centre, WAMAC, with support from MacArthur Foundation, held in Akure, capital of Ondo State, at the Continent Hotel Hall, Alagbaka Akure.
The theme for the Town Hall meeting was: Issues of Systemic Corruption in Public and Private Sectors: A Deep Dive into the Electricity Sector in Ondo State.
Citizens of Akure, and Ondo State in general, had complained bitterly about being made to go through pains and anguish of having to pay for electricity not enjoyed or being made to believe in the contribution of money to procure transformers or electrical facilities.
Delivering a lecture at the Town Hall meeting, the National Secretary, of the Nigerian Electricity Consumers Advocacy Network (NECAN) and Lead Director, of Energy Consumer Consultancy Services (ECCS), Mr Uket Eko Obonga, took participants through the methods by which the energy consumed by them or their companies could be derived, as well as the rightful amount of money that should be paid for the consumption.
Obonga highlighted classification and metering as two ways by which Distribution Companies (Discos) collect money unjustly from unsuspecting customers, and that metres placed at the wrong places could attract excess billing, explaining that electricity is a measurable quantity, and as such no electricity distribution company should be able to swindle the unsuspecting public.
The energy expert also decried the dubious privatisation process of Discos across the nation and took people through processes by which they could demand refunds for electricity not consumed by them, saying the National Electricity Regulation Commission (NERC) would not condone such from Discos.
In their separate responses, participants at the meeting lamented their experiences with Discos in terms of excessive and hidden charges, as well as poor delivery of services, and appreciated the efforts of WAMAC for sensitising citizens on their rights and privileges.
Also, present at the meeting were representatives of People Living With Disabilities (PLWDs) who thanked WAMAC for showing respect for the policy of inclusiveness by extending a hand of fellowship to them to be part of the discourse.
Earlier, in his address of welcome, the Executive Director and Project Manager, WAMAC, Mr Zubair Idris, noted that corruption, which has besieged the power sector in the past, must be addressed and perpetrators of such inhumane acts must be brought to book.
At the end of the Town Hall meeting a communique was put together and read by the WAMAC Project Manager, Zubair Idris.
The communiqué, amongst other things, commended President Bola Tinubu for signing into law an act to reduce the monopoly of electricity generation, distribution, and renewable energy and also called for investigation and intervention with the purpose of getting refunds for the alleged purchase of transformers and accessories by consumers, as demanded by Discos.
The communique, which was adopted by everyone present at the meeting, encouraged participants to be Anti-corruption Ambassadors in Akure, other parts of Ondo State, and anywhere they find themselves.
According to statistics, about 12,000 megawatts of electricity which get to individual homes and companies in Nigeria via Generation, Transmission, and Distribution, is generated in Nigeria but only about 4,000 megawatts can be transmitted by the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), according to its capacity.
Of the 4,000 megawatts transmitted, Discos circulate a few across the country depending on their area of coverage and capacity, but investigations have shown that many times what is said to be distributed is not commensurate with the value of money spent to procure the units of power supply.
The stakeholders hoped that the Town Hall meeting would birth a new phase of the relationship between customers in Akure and the BEDC, such that undue extortion and sharp practices would be obsolete in the city and Ondo State in general.