Power, Works & Housing Minister Babatunde Fashola was unsparing yesterday in Jos as he told the 11 DisCos to sit up.
He said the Federal Government and Nigerians were fed up with excuses from the DisCos over their shortcomings and berated them for lack of “corporate governance” in their relationship with consumers.
The minister told the DisCos to stick to the terms of their licences and implement their remittance obligations without complaints.
Fashola spoke in the Plateau State capital during the monthly meeting of stakeholders in the power sector, hosted by the Jos Electricity Distribution Company (JEDC) at their NIPP Injection substation at Lamingo Dam.
According to the minister, who chaired the 15th monthly meeting, “the monthly meeting is to provide opportunity for stakeholders to meet and brainstorm on challenges and ways to improve power supply to the satisfaction of all Nigerians.”
He rejected the excuses of the DisCos and the various attempts by them to justify why they have not satisfied their consumers.
Fashola told the DisCos: “What the public need to know and which your statement is silent about is that you are entitled to fully recover your cost and investment by law. And this is the function of how tariff are also calculated. So if you make your investment, the cost is passed through to consumers.
“Therefore, if government holds 40 per cent of the shares of DisCos on behalf of the state and local governments and the Nigerian people, I believe that the government has the duty to ensure that you buy your parts and equipment at reasonable and competitive market prices and not through inflated contracts to relatives as we have seen in some DisCos in respect of which NEC will take a decision in due course and sanction those who are involved.
“You also issued a statement regarding the declaration of eligible customers, your statement claimed that this provision which allows certain classes of consumers to deal directly with generation companies is premature and will result in extra cost to the consumers.
“Your statement is however silent on the inability of some of your members to invest in feeders and distribution equipment to get the power to the consumers, this has led to the emergence of the terminology of ‘load rejection’ for an economy that does not have enough power and enough crude.
“Your statement that money does not address the illogic standing in the ways of the consumers seeking to get by himself what the service providers or DisCos have failed or was unable to give him.
“As for the alarm and the panic which your statement seeks to raise about the increase eligible customer declaration is not compulsory and applied to only those who were left to benefit from it.
“And they are in the position, I believe, to decide whether the tariff of over N60 per kilowatt hour through generation by diesel which they currently use is preferable to investing in the distribution facilities that give them power at a lower term. What is important is that the law is followed; consultations are held with those prescribed before decisions are taken.
“Rather than complain about old infrastructure, I wish to remind you that nobody forced you to buy these assets, and that you knew what you were buying when you bought them.
“As for the N709 billion intervention, let me say that it is consistent with our government policy and determination to enable businesses flourish and it was intended to save the GenCos and the gas companies and their financiers who were providing service from collapse.
“Your statement did not tell members of the public that these companies were not getting paid because you were not remitting all what you are supposed to be remitting to the market operators.”