By Emmanuel Addeh
The 11 electricity distribution companies (Discos) operating in Nigeria have clarified that the planned two-month holiday for electricity consumers in the country would be paid for by the federal government.
The Discos said that contrary to reports that the power supply for the two months would be given free of charge by them, the federal government is backing up the action with some funding.
Earlier, the distribution companies had said they recognised the challenging effects of the coronavirus on the economic and daily lives of their customers, stressing that they fully aligned with the efforts of government to mitigate the hardships that are currently being borne by its customers and other citizens all over the country.
They noted that they were committed to the initiative to ensure more efficient power supply within this difficult period, as the nation battles with the impact of COVID-19.
“We are also completely aligned with the plans to ensure palliative measures, including ‘free electricity supply to all Nigerians for two months’, to make life easier, during the lockdown period. Details of implementation to come soon.
“Again, as a key utility player in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI), we hereby reiterate our commitment to improving service delivery to the nation during this pandemic period and thereafter,” the Discos had said.
But making some clarifications on the report Thursday, the Executive Director, Research and Advocacy and spokesman of the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), the umbrella body of the Discos, Sunday Oduntan, noted that the power to be supplied was not free per say.
“There is a need to make the following clarifications. The energy to be supplied for the two months is not free from the Discos but is being paid for by the federal government, in partnership with the National Assembly.
“As such, the ability for the Discos to go forward is subject to the stimulus package being passed by the National Assembly and signed into law by Mr. President.
“While this palliative seeks to mitigate the economic challenges that Nigerians are being subjected to during this COVID-19 period, it is our hope that we do not lose sight of the no-cost reflective tariff challenges that the Discos continue to suffer under.
“Regardless, we laud Mr. President, members of his government and the National Assembly for this initiative,” the distribution companies noted.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, had during a meeting between the National Assembly leadership and the Minister of Finance last Saturday mooted the idea that the package was necessary since it would have the highest impact on the entire strata of the Nigerian society.
“We have the figures. I think we should look very seriously into that as part of our package for economic stimulus, because stimulus means something that will stimulate the economy. When you are stimulating the economy, most of it will come from the informal sector.
“When you are saving people their electricity and the fact that they now have stable electricity for two months, you are also saving the monies that would go into the payment of those bills at least for two months” he said.