Power supply: Fashola angry with spokesman for DisCos

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The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, says his directive to Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) is to rectify issues impeding electricity supply in the country, but not to demonise DisCos.

Fashola offered the clarification while reacting to an assertion by Mr Sunny Oduntan, the Executive Director, Research and Advocacy, Association of Electricity Distributors (ANED), in Abuja on Friday.

The minister said in a statement that his directive was to legal entities and not to an interloper.

He said it was untrue that Oduntan’s minded interpretation of his directive was an attempt to demonise the DisCos.

Fashola had at a news conference mandated NERC in line with the law to prevail on the DisCos to improve their distribution equipment and capacity to take up the available 2,000MWs.

He had said that NERC should enforce the contract of DisCos to supply meters and act to ensure urgent speedy supply and installation of meters to eliminate estimated billing and promote efficient industry market structures.

However, ANED, in a response by Oduntan, faulted Fashola’s directives to NERC to prevail on the DisCos.

Oduntan also spoke on the wrong timing of declaration of customers’ eligibility by the minister.

He also faulted the minster’s comment on meter supply by DisCos and claim on current power generation, among other pronouncements of the minister on the sector.

Fashola said: “Before fiction becomes fact for lack of a response, I feel obliged to respond to some, not all of the allegations credited to one Sunday Oduntan.

“Which he made in response to my directives to NERC and Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET) as contracting parties to the DisCos.

“Throughout my press statement which contained the directives, I referred copiously to the provisions of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (EPSRA) which is the law that regulates the power sector.

“I referred to DisCos in their capacities as licencees.

“If ANED is not a licencee, who is ANED, an NGO? If so, they should listen to consumers because nothing is going on about poor service.

“The BPE, NBET and NERC, to whom my directives were made, contracted individually with DisCos not as an association.

“However, to suggest therefore that my directives were political turns reality on its head.

“For the past 20 months, in all my public briefings at monthly meetings with the DisCos these same issues of service delivery of meters, estimated billings, investment in distribution equipment by DisCos have dominated my remarks.

“However, assuming this was not so, do the onset of elections preclude the quest for better service or continued governance?

“His statement that no directives from me will save the power sector from collapse is consistent with the views of someone who has no skin in the game.

“It is revealing of the mindset of a saboteur not a builder, and he will do very well to acquaint himself and advise his co-travellers about the consequences of sabotaging the economy under our laws.

“I am optimistic that the power sector will prosper in spite of Oduntan-minded personalities.

“As for the allegation that figures of power generation and distribution released by me are not true, the taste of the pudding lies with those who eat it.

“Electricity consumers know what their experience was in 2015, 2016, 2017 and today.

“These figures have been released many months back when we reached those milestones as part of my monthly report and roadmap of incremental power.

“It is obvious that the warning lights of compliance necessity are blinking, and those he represents do not like the colour.

“If the DisCos connect with their consumers, they will hear from them first-hand, how traumatised they feel about load shedding, absence of meters and estimated billing.

“The GenCos, who are short paid because the DisCos under-remit in spite of high estimated billing to consumers, will tell DisCos how they feel.

“If Oduntan truly speaks for the DisCos, which I doubt, he should ignore the messenger (Fashola) and advise those for whom he acts as surrogate, to focus on the message.”

The minister said his directive seeks to rectify the problems because he believes they could be rectified.

According to him, his directive, among others, is that electricity consumers want better service, NBET wants its money of about N800 billion from the DisCos, so it can pay GenCos.

He also said DisCos should respond on why 408 feeders, which have a capacity to deliver 5,756MW of power to consumers only carry 444MW because of faulty lines, bad equipment and load shedding.

“These are part of the subject of my directives to NERC to address deliberate load shedding, that is what electricity consumers want, better service,’’ the minister said.