The Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the police and other security agencies, are collaborating to rid the power sector of corrupt officials.
ANED’s Executive Director, Research, and Development, Mr. Sunday Oduntan, said the issue had reached an advanced stage, as many workers have been investigated for bribery, stealing, extortion of innocent consumers among other untoward practices, by a highly constituted team set up by the association.
He said workers that were involved in criminal activities were sacked by their respective DisCos after they were found guilty.
Oduntan said: ‘’ Some workers of the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company(IBEDC) and other power distribution companies, who are found guilty of grievous offenses such as stealing of electricity facilities or money, have been handed over to EFFC for investigation. Also, they have been forced out of the system by their employers. Many of such people would follow suit very soon. The exercise is taking place across the country, as part of efforts to sanitize the sector. We at ANED frown at such practices and have vowed to put a stop to them, hence our decision to set up a team of people that are investigating criminal issues involving workers of the DisCos. The anti-graft agency is complementing our investigation by making the investigation more effective and stronger.”
According to him, ANED, which is the umbrella body of all the 11 distribution companies is on top of the game, as it gets hints on where such illegal activities are taking place and promptly follow it up, with a view to ensuring justice.
“If any member of the consuming public is extorted by any of the officials of the DisCos, we would get necessary information on the officials involved, we would report him or her to the DisCo that has employed her. The DisCo in return would carry out its own due diligence on the issue in order to find out whether the allegation leveled on such person(s) are founded or not. We work as a team, as we do not leave any area untouched in our investigation,” he added.
ANED, Oduntan said, has visited Abuja, Plateau and other parts of the country, with a view to monitoring the activities of the officials and get reports on their conduct for necessary action.
He said the issue of sanitizing the sector must start in the house first, before it is moved to institutions outside that are aiding corruption, by conniving with workers.
He said, based on this, the 11 DisCos agreed to rid themselves of unscrupulous workers.
On debts, Oduntan said the debts owed the power firms by the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are huge, adding that failure of the MDAs to pay back their debts that have accumulated over the years, is a problem in the sector.
He explained that the inability of the firms to meet their obligations to customers, by supplying them electricity regularly, meters, and other equipment, was a result of the debts.
The DisCos, he said, were lacking funds to operate, stressing that the issue is telling on their performance.He said this is in addition to the fact that power generation is decreasing in the country.
He said, if the power generation companies (GenCos) produce enough electricity for the use of the DisCos, the DisCos still need to get funds to procure modern facilities for operation.
The DisCos need money to replace obsolete equipment with new ones, in order to record optimal level he said.