Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Truth About Power Supply

By Adisa Gbadamosi
 In   terms   of   the cause   of poor   electricity   supply ravaging   the nation   presently a blunt statement from the  the office of the Minister   of Power, Works   and Housing , Mr.   Raji   Fashola, provided an answer.   The statement   which was issued by one of his aides stated that it was immoral to expect   the Federal   government to   blame electricity   distribution   companies   called Discos   for the poor   electricity   supply   in the nation.
The Power   Minister  was responding   proactively   to the news   that   the House   of   Representatives had   invited   him and stakeholders in the electricity   industry for  a meeting to   explain the   cause   of   power   failure   in  the country. The   press   statement   was   therefore   meant   to   apprise   the legislators before   he  showed   up    in   the   House   for   grilling on   the subject . In   effect   the Minister   killed   the proverbial   two   birds   with   one stone. He   answered   the   question of the legislators   from   afar   as it were.   He   also   allayed   their   fears      also   at   a  safe   distance   on the   mistaken   notion   that   the Discos   were the culprit of the poor power supply  experienced  in the country .

Let   me state   clearly   as a keen   observer   of the   power   sector and its development that the pronouncements   and statement   of   the   Minister is candid,   informed   and   most   patriotic.

In  particular,   I urge   our law   makers   to   emulate these   virtues   even   as they grandstand to nail   perceived   culprits   for   the poor   supply   even   though      the cause   is well   known   to   all   Nigerians except   perhaps   our   legislators   and   trade union   leaders . The   Minister’s   statement   pointed out some facts .The   first   was   that pipeline vandalisation had   disrupted   and decreased   electricity   supply   massively   nation   wide   and power   generation , and transmission      had   suffered massively   and such   distribution   had   been   scanty   all over the nation . 

The   second   is that   many   government   parastatals   and institutions owe the   distribution   companies   a lot   of   money   predating   his   recent   appointment as Minister   of   Power thus   tying   his   hands   to stop   the   Discos   from   demanding immediate payment   from   such   government   agencies   or   have   them face massive   disconnection.   Which ipso   facto   is the legal   resort   for   such   breach   of   payment   in the face of   continuous enjoyment   without   payment   of electricity   supply by   these   government facilities   and corporations.

 The   third is the   fact unknown   to many  in the public   that   the Federal   government   before   the advent   of   this administration   had   sold its ownership in the power   companies and had   no control over them in terms of generation   and distribution   of electricity . The   Minister admitted that apart from   the   violation   of the law inherent in assuming   false ownership   and giving futile orders,   there was the dangerous risk of   creating   a   potential   rash   of litigation in the   advice in some quarters   to stop the Discos   from   realising   revenue   for   sold   services both now   and in the past, especially   from government institutions which   have become   brazen   debtors to   Discos   which   are  now  privately   owned   by   Nigerian business men   and   investors . 

In   addition,   the   Minister   harped on the fact   that the   Discos   charged cost   reflective tariffs   approved   for   them   by law   and it would   be   again immoral for   government   whose   agencies owe the Discos so   much   to   ask   the   them  not   to   take   money   for   services   rendered. Indeed   to support   the Minister   on this   stance   was   the advice he   offered Nigerians when   the Senate   summoned him   earlier   in the year to explain   the new   electricity   tariffs approved   for the Discos by the Electricity   Regulation   Commission of   Nigeria. 

Unfortunately,   the Senate stopped   the   new tariff   increase   rather   ill advised. The Minister   said   then   that   the increased   electricity  tariffs   is   like a dose of quinine   which ultimately   will   make life   better   for   Nigerians. This very  apt   and  instructive example was    ignored by the Senate. Since then,   electricity  generation and distribution   nose dive and the situation is now worsened by gas pipeline vandalisation which has resulted to the present    uncontrollable  situation. If the fact that the union   leaders   asked   Nigerians   to go on strike because of the increase in electricity tariffs, is added to the fuel price hike, then   one   must   admit   that it was   indeed   honourable of the Minister   to   say   publicly   that it would   be immoral  to blame the Discos for poor   electricity   supply   as the unions   had done so.
*Mr.Adisa Gbadamosi, an engineer, wrote from Iseyin, Oyo State.  

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