By BASHIR ADEFAKA
“More often, the DisCos break the rules than the consumers do. And they are now doing it more during the election campaigns period as 2019 general elections are fast approaching. This clearly confirms our long time of complaint that those in charge of power distribution in Nigeria since its sale by PDP government are PDP people in business and that they would use power issue as tool for campaign against the Muhammadu Buhari-led APC Federal Government in 2019. That is what they are doing now and Nigerians, like myself, are beginning to see the truth. That is why the PDP have refused to make poor power supply, despite abundant generated mega watts, as campaign tool because they know it is dangerous for them to do so and it is the reason I came up with this piece on where politicization of power distribution sale goofed.”
One of the best statements the former Governor of Lagos State, who brought modern look to state governance in Nigeria, even at a time Federal Government for 16 years failed, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), has made in recent times about power generations and supplies is when HE ASKED CONSUMERS NOT TO BLAME 3-YEAR-OLD MUHAMMADU BUHARI GOVERNMENT FOR POOR POWER SUPPLY IN THE COUNTRY BUT that they should ask Generation Companies (GenCos) and Distribution Companies (DisCos) to whom the PAST ADMINISTRATION before the current administration sold all assets that Power Ministry used to control that Nigerian consumers may have power.
To this end, Nigerians, whose lives and actions are fashioned on realism, would now know that when a business is private, the only thing that is required of government is to create enabling environment for it to thrive and, anything outside that is illegal.
Do not forget that Mr. Fashola, a senior lawyer, is the most qualified at the moment to speak on behalf of government of Africa’s most populous nation on electricity related issues being the Minister of Power, Works and Housing.
He came to see the inside-government of what the past administration of then President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, GCFR, Ph.D, and his party hierarchy did with power in successions since 1999 that then President Olusegun Mathew Aremu Obasanjo, GCFR, Ph.D, mni, started by selling the power sector as NEPA, National Electricity Power Authority after he had reduced it to PHCN, Power Holding Company of Nigeria, taken back into the hands of Nigerian Nation by his successor, who died two years into his administration as President, on the ground that his predecessor and his vice and supervisory officer of the economy, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, GCFR, did not sell NEPA with clean conscience.
This same Fashola, who was a member of National Economy Council (NEC) at that time to behold how the administrations of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) handled NEPA, PHCN which climaxed finally into the sales of the PHCN after it had been split into generation, transition and distribution companies by the same party in government, actually and, now that by virtue of President Buhari – a man globally acknowledged for his exceptional integrity and indisputably recognized as an enigma of a pragmatic sort – being in government he is Minister of Power, Works and Housing, the former Governor of Lagos State, who started being noticed in the public scene as Chief of Staff to the Governor of Lagos State, agreed that, “Yes! Too much of damage has been done to our national power system so much that it is difficult for us as government retrieve this power that has been sold to themselves as politicians in private business. All we can do is stick to the laws guiding the sale, the operation and strengthen the rules and regulations attached to the deal that Nigerian consumers who are at the receiving end will not suffer”. That seems to be his position.
Therefore, Federal Government has ensured – through provision of enabling environment, loan support and all forms of logistics – that those private companies, to whom PDP Administration sold Nigeria’s Power (NEPA, PHCN), grow in business. They signed an agreement even with the PDP government which sold rights to them that they were buying the power to be able to improve on it and with main focus on supplying improved electricity to the Nigerian consumers.
It will therefore be out of place if not hypocritical for any person knowing these facts on ground regarding the current poor power supply – which is understandably deliberate because of politics ( and as suggested that the PDP administration sold the power distribution to their own PDP people) – to now leave the private companies aside, not blaming or revolting against them for failing to fulfill their legal contract with Government of Nigeria which believes that they will definitely make their money but not at the dissatisfaction of Nigerian consumers, but now having the government (especially now that it is under a new and different party) even as it no longer has business doing with power distribution. Because some journalists and lawyers are pretending not to know these truths and so the masses of the Nigerian people, who are the loudest voices, do not know what is happening because media practitioners (as if they collude with desperate opposition politicians whose party, in truth, sold the power to themselves before they were booted out of power in 2015) refused to enlighten them by way of constant investigation-based reportages, interviews, editorials and features, either as print, broadcasting or digital media.
Good enough, however, (perhaps for fear of being exposed by the no-nonsense administration of Buhari where the Spokesman of Government and Minister of Information and Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Spokesmen and Image Makers of the President, Mr. Femi Adesina, Mallam Garba Shehu, and even Spokesman of the Vice President, Mr. Laolu Akande, are not small fries and have continued to hold fast against their mischief, that the said politicians have refused to thread the path of using poor power supply as campaign tool against the Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC).
The fact must once again be made clear that PDP-led Federal Government sold Power Sector not APC-led Federal Government. If a legal contract had been signed with people who in Nigeria decided to take over the power sector from government to enable them improve on it and supply quality, stable and healthy electricity to Nigerians, how on earth should some people claim they do not know the implication of APC government now coming to say “Hey! Get out. We are taking the business back from you?” That is what those, who hide under PDP politics, are trying to make Buhari Government do and, because it refused to be dragged into such unethical economic practice capable of making Nigeria a distrusted country, they begin to call him all manner of names ranging from ‘Baba Go-Slow’ through ‘incompetent president’ to ‘lacking in economic development knowledge. It cannot happen that way.
All the government must do it has done. It set up – even under PDP that sold the power – the Nigerian Electricity Regulation Commission (NERC), which did nothing about checking the GenCos (who generated only 2,600 mega watts at the point of PDP quit) and DisCos under PDP government but, now, regulates properly under APC government.
However, that same NERC has made sure that these private power distribution companies (DisCos) do not shortchange Nigerian consumers by estimated billing system, Buhari government gave them loans to procure pre-paid meter and distribute electricity residential and commercial areas of consumption.
But these PDP politicians in business of power distribution refuse to yield to the government’s directives and fail to appreciate the Buhari Government’s gesture as they continue to ensure crazy bills given to consumers even when they do not consume power and it is known to the distributors that they do not consume power; yet there are several laws in the code of operation of these companies which state out the rights and duties of both parties (the companies and the consumers).
To ensure that consumers do not enjoy their rights at any level, what most of the DisCos do is employ the thug-looking youths not paid salaries but let carry ladder around to harass consumers even when their bills (for those that are given bills and not being asked to pay without record) show they are not owing. What that means, and I am a personally affected consumer, is that even the consumer who is not owing will beg with bribe so that his or her light will not be disconnected because he or she knows how long again it will take for DisCo to reconnect her.
Nobody should think I exaggerate to say that even at that, reconnection fee is paid. It took me to put up a fight before marketing manager of one of the offices got attracted and began to tell why it is wrong to disconnect consumer who is not owing and still ask him or her to pay reconnection fee. But that intervention is not common. It came because the manager knew my background. Spokesman of Minister of Power, Works and Housing knew about this when it happened to me and his advice worked.
More often, the DisCos break the rules than the consumers do. And they are now doing it more during the election campaigns period as 2019 general elections are fast approaching. This clearly confirms our long time of complaint that those in charge of power distribution in Nigeria since its sale by PDP government are PDP people in business and that they would use power issue as tool for campaign against the Muhammadu Buhari-led APC Federal Government in 2019. That is what they are doing now and Nigerians, like myself, are beginning to see the truth. That is why the PDP have refused to make poor power supply, despite abundant generated mega watts, as campaign tool because they know it is dangerous for them to do so and it is the reason I came up with this piece on where politicization of power distribution sale goofed.
*Bashir Adefaka, an Osolo Prince of Akure, Ondo State capital, is a media practitioner in Nigeria, West Africa. He can be reached through his email: email@example.com or text/whatsapp to his 08163323906.