The debts, which the Nigerian military formations, the Nigerian Police and agencies of government owe power distribution companies in Nigeria, have hit $660 million (N132 billion).
A data compiled by platformsafrica revealed that the debts which was over $495 million (N99 billion) on September 1, 2013, sky-rocketed to (660 million) N132 billion on September 1, 2015, an addition of 165 million (N33 billion) in two years.
This came as the new power investors, whose account are on the verge of going red due to this high indebtedness, have taken their protest to the Presidency after several efforts to recoup the money met brick walls.
Rising under the auspices of the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), the discos, according to checks by this African-focused authoritative news platform, met Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo where they sent a Saved Our Soul (SOS) message to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Executive Director, ANED, Sunday Oduntan, who confirmed this meeting declared that system collapse is imminent over the debts.
He accused military men (Army, Navy, Air Force) of beating up engineers of the Discos whenever they want to collect the electricity debts, appealing to President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene and rescue members of staff of power firms from the assault and humiliation.
Oduntan explained that MDAs are DISCOs’ worst customers.
“In the case of non-payment, the greatest problem we have today is the Nigerian military. Giving the figures under the DISCOs or wherever you see military formations, they owe huge electricity debts and the problem we have is that, most of these military formations have refused to pay and they owe so much,” Oduntan said.
“I will just give you some of the examples. Under Ibadan DISCO, military owes N3.9bn; in Kaduna DISCO, the Nigerian military owes N6.3bn, and owes N263m in Kano DISCO. Our records also show that the military and MDAs are owing Abuja DISCO about N7bn, just as the military and para-military debts under Eko DISCO stand at N1.9bn.
“I am also aware that the military and Ministries, Departments and Agencies at various levels of government owe the largest debts in all other DISCOs across the country and people are complaining about our services. With these mind-boggling debts, we can’t invest in metering; we can’t invest in transformers and I’m worried that the system may collapse.”
“Military men usually beat up our men whenever they wanted to collect the electricity debts,” he said.
Over N32 billion, he added, “is still outstanding as federal government’s MDAs debt. It has not been paid till now. That N32 billion means a lot to us. If we have that money, we can buy meters and share to our customers. Before I started shouting in the mass media, we had serious issue with MDAs.
“The military especially felt it is their right not to pay for the power they consume forgetting that the current power sector is under the private sector. In the budget, they actually have allowances for utility bills’ payment. These military formations especially in Ikeja and Eko Electricity Distribution companies, and even across the country are metered; therefore, it is not that they are on estimated billing or over-billed, and don’t have reasons not to pay,” Oduntan said.
He added that, “We had a meeting with the federal government presided over by Vice President Prof Yemi Osinbajo, and he listened to all sides (all the stakeholders) including the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Market Operators, Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET), generating and distribution companies. We all tabled our problems and the government has started looking at those issues; he promised us that the MDAs will pay the debts. I can assure that this government seems to be very serious, determined and sincere to provide electricity.”
Oduntan said the commercial losses are very high citing a DISCO that bought electricity worth of N3.2 billion and after preparing the billing, it got N2.6 billion leaving it with a deficit of N600 million.
“Out of the N2.6 billion bills it prepared, it would not be able to collect all of them due to non-payment as some customers aren’t willing to pay. This happens because some big men, welders and battery chargers, among others, bypass their meters. Out of the N2.6 billion bills you prepare, you would not be able to collect all of them due to non-payment as some customers aren’t willing to pay,” he added.
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