Bring Back Our NEPA: The DisCos are Scavenging the Public – Dr. Ugoji Egbujo

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Look away NERC, till the DisCos have had us to their fill.  National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), you can pretend to be asleep.  After all they were all sleeping while  fugitive Maina  went around town in pomp and ceremony. If they wake you, tell them you  have not received any complaints. You don’t have to admit  you  know. You don’t have to confess  that  the  Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) have been reaping what they, and their ancestor, didn’t not sow.  The ordinary people have no stamina, no courage. Power They  won’t trouble you for long.

You  could even mouth  global  best practices  and legality.  You know the language that is often used by officialdom, here, to put the people in their place. In  their place of  perpetual ignorance. Tell the public that those who bought NEPA  and PHCN bought, inherited,  all their  assets and liabilities. But don’t  tell them  that ‘estimated bills’ are  not genuine assets.  Don’t tell them  the DisCos couldn’t  have only bought such debts except  they were insane. You are a regulatory  body. You are not  a religious body. You don’t have to tell it all.  It’s  understandable. I always understand why  civil servants habitually go to  work late.  No one really checks. And perhaps there is not so much to do. Perhaps there are too many people and too little work. But I can never understand how security guards at a federal government girls college can take to selling the girls for sex, for so long.

I can’t understand how that school could  be so porous  that  children  are recruited into prostitution under the noses of  its management and teachers. Perhaps these security guards and the electricity regulators have something in common. I can understand that the Federal Government sold NEPA to a multitude of ravenous  briefcase companies. That privatization may not have taken place at all if it was not driven by  selfishness, greed  and cronyism. Things work here, with our incoherent policies and rickety bureaucracy, only when they are  lubricated by corruption. What I cannot  however understand is why EKO  Electricity Distribution Company  (EKEDC) is marching around Lagos and casually  intimidating Lagosians in broad daylight. Those who understand how the  ‘Ogboju’  phenomenon works would tell EEKDC that brazen intimidation only works against isolated  targets. EKEDC has gone around with  bulging red eyes pretending it has right to collect debts due the old NEPA. Every Nigerian knows how the old NEPA operated.

We tolerated  all its  nuisance and sinfulness because it was a national black sheep.  We all knew they printed and foisted fictitious bills on ordinary people. We knew many didn’t pay any bills too.  EKEDC knew NEPA’s books were filled with bogus assets—these estimated bills. Any reasonable buyer would have disputed the inclusion of such assets in the valuation of NEPA.  EKEDC must have discarded them. This is a heist. EEKDC  is now marching around chasing these debts with righteous anger. This is a heist.  It’s not  constrained by the  dubiousness of the bills. EKEDC is desperate. EEKDC, like all other distribution companies, has added no  real value to electricity delivery in  Lagos.  What they have come with is an abundance of naked opportunism. The public would like to know the details of the purchase of PHCN. The public would like to know what value was placed on the  bogus ‘estimated bills.‘

The public  would like to know  how much EEKDC paid to inherit rights to those debts in Lagos.  So the public can know by how much the bills were discounted if they were paid for by EKEDC at all. I have seen inebriated touts chase away invited guests from a wedding venue. I suspect that when all is aired,and dried in the sun,  the hypocrisy of the EEKDC will be unmasked and the arrogance  of its debt recovery  staff will shrivel. Something tells me the DISCOs are scavenging the public. I can understand why Maina was, and is perhaps still, untouchable. Money talks in Nigeria. And plenty money talks plentifully. I can understand why he became powerful.  He was detecting so much of stolen pensions money and was organizing billion naira  contracts.

The government was drooling. He was in contact with billions of  wandering  naira. I can also understand why he became an endangered specie. He was disorganizing organized crime syndicates past,present and future. He  was  enthroning a new order while enthroning himself a new Capone.  What I cant understand is why EKEDC  can disconnect poor Lagosians because they want to collect debts owed the old NEPA and PHCN. It’s  just too stark, too brazen, too unconscionable an  exploitation.

I cannot understand how EKEDC collects money for installation of meters from some consumers and not from others.  I cannot understand how EEKDC has  refused to take responsibility for the actions of the boys it has sent to peoples homes to install meters.  These boys go around in the name of EEKDC collecting 7000 Naira  from consumers as charge for  installation of prepaid meters.  And this isn’t the money they collect from these people to  ‘buy wires.’ NEPA and PHCN  were better. That, I now  understand. PHCN was sloppy. But they  had a human face.  The DisCos are slovenly and ruthless. In Nigeria, consumers are always extorted.  So this is  not such a scandal.

What I can’t grasp  is why the EEKDC  cannot pretend to some corporate ethics? It has refused to take action against complaints made to it about these extortions. But how would a hypocritical EKEDC take any action? Isn’t  it the same EKEDC that has been  estimating  bills from its offices  and compelling consumers to pay for  what  they didn’t consume? Perhaps I can  understand Nigerian companies extort the public in broad daylight. They  often say doing business in Nigeria is difficult, treacherous. They say almost every public office they pass through is a toll gate. So they take it out on the people. What I can’t understand is why consumer protection  cannot be seen pretending to be at work?  Where exactly is NERC consumer protection?  Well, I can understand that  sometimes  their staff  have to augment their salaries by looking away.  Because sometimes  Nigerian workers’ salaries don’t come for months. So they are left to develop all  kinds of allegiances. And devise all sorts of schemes. So the security guards at FGGC Langtang  pimp out the  girls they are employed to protect for sex. And NERC looks away and the Nigerian public rolls over for pitiless DisCos. The Nigerian people,  always pimped out , by those who should protect them, to ravenous dogs.

Source: IWIN

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