The House of Representatives Committee on Power has told electricity consumers in Nigeria that electricity is not free anywhere in the world.
The clarification was made by the Chairman, House Committee on Power, Hon. Dan Asuquo during a public customer’s forum, held in Port Harcourt.
Hon. Asuquo has said that the Committee was in Port Harcourt to interact with customers of Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, PHED, on billing method, metering and other complaints, as part of its oversight function.
“We have the mandate of the House of Representatives, under the leadership of Mr. Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, to carry out this investigative hearing, modeled customer forum.
“It is our duty to protect you against any injustice arising from your electricity bill but you must pay for electricity consumed”, he said.
“But tell your chiefs, especially, those in the South-South region that electricity is not free, even in Freetown or elsewhere in the world.
“Nigerians and host communities need to pay their electricity bills because power can never be free or cheap.
“Yes, Nigerians have a right to be given access to power and quality power but it must be at a cost.
“It is that cost that we are here to guarantee, so that you will not be ripped off by the distribution companies
“The Police, Army, Navy, Air force, all pay their bills because they know that nobody is bigger than the law.
“People expect government to subsidize everything from power, fuel to education, but today, the reality is that we have to pay for services that we get.
“We will continue to engage National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and assets owners and players in the chain to see how we can resolve issues”, he said.
Asuquo said that payment of bills would enable electricity distribution companies (DISCOs) and other investors to invest in critical power infrastructure in other to expand their network.
He noted that the challenge to provide stable electricity to homes would be addressed through government-direct intervention and sacrifice and patriotism from citizens.
Jay McCoskey, the Chief Executive Officer, PHED, in his remarks emphasized the importance of customers in the sustainability of the power industry.
He said, “PHED operates in a regulated environment, as such, it will abide by the rules.
“We depend on our customers to pay their bills in other to make the value chain work.
“We must work together to electrify and fortify Nigeria with a view to creating more jobs”, McCoskey said.
The customer forum witnessed large participants from electricity consumers, who aired their views and perspectives on the service providers.