*Discos urge FG to sell 40 per cent equity share to boost liquidity
By Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The total electricity debts owed by the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of the federal government, as well as state and local governments have risen to N78.7 billion, the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED) said on Sunday.
ANED explained in a briefing in Abuja that the figure was as at the end of April 2016.
It gave a breakdown of the debt profile and explained that the Nigerian Army is the single largest debtor to electricity distribution companies (Discos) in Nigeria with N38.75 billion counted against it.
Following the Army on the inglorious list is the Nigerian Airforce with N3.09 billion, Navy – 3.3 billion, Police – N4.66 billion, Customs – 528.78 million, Prisons – N895.6 million and Immigration – N47.8 million.
A further breakdown of the debt indicated that federal ministries and parastatals owed the Discos N9.98 billion in unpaid electricity bills they had accumulated over time.
State governments also owed the Discos N16.21 billion while local government owed N1.16 billion.
The record also showed that of the 11 Discos, Abuja Electricity Distribution Company is owed N18.6 billion, Benin – N5.9 billion, Eko – N8.6 billion, Enugu – N7.2 billion, Ibadan – N6.8 billion and Ikeja – N5.9 billion.
Others such as Jos is owed N6.5 billion, while Kaduna, Kano, Port Harcourt and Yola Discos are owed N8.2 billion, N1.2 billion, N6.88 billion and N2.46 billion respectively.
The Executive Director of ANED, Sunday Oduntan told journalists that despite the lack of liquidity in the power sector, governments at all levels and their agencies were refusing to pay the Discos electricity bills they had accumulated.
Oduntan also lamented that some workers of the Discos were often beaten up for requesting for monies owed the Discos from these culprits. He added that attempts to get them to comply have also attracted such unwholesome attitudes.
He however apologised to electricity consumers for poor supply in recent days, saying: “As distributors we wish we can do better but we can only do as much as been produced. If nothing is generated, nothing can be distributed.”
“And like I did in the past, I liken this sector to any production process like the breweries for instance. If they do not produce the beer, no beer distributor can distribute it at the beer palour,” he added.
He however urged Nigerians to protect power facilities especially pipelines taking gas to power plants. This he said will ensure that power generation is not interrupted by cuts in gas supply to the generators.