By Ndubuisi Francis
The Coalition of Arewa Assembly has decried the alleged move to stop the provision of eligible customers (EC) in the Nigerian electricity market, appealing to President Muhammadu Buhari and his economic team to urgently wade into the matter to avert economic collapse.
The Electricity Power Sector Reform Act (EPSRA) 2005 defines an ‘eligible customer’ as a customer that is eligible, pursuant to a directive or directives issued by the Minister of Power under Section 27, to purchase power from a licensee other than electricity distribution companies (discos).
A former Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, had on May 15, 2017, declared four categories of eligible customers in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI).
However, the Arewa group, in a statement issued by its National Coordinator, Mallam Attahiru Usman, alleged that a cartel among the Discos was hatching a plot to stop the eligible customer scheme, in a deliberate attempt to collapse the economy.
The statement said: “As part of efforts towards actualising their aims of increasing electricity tariffs, the said cartel plotted coup d’état which ensured that Mr. Raji Fashola was not returned as minister for power for a second term tenure while the former managing director of Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) was also relieved of his appointment.
“Cancellation of eligible customers which has been a huge relief to Gencos and TCN as well as manufacturers that are buying bulk powers will wreck serious havoc on business activities nationwide with negative ‘bush fire’ effects on all facets of the nation’s economy.”
The group lamented that such a move, if allowed to succeed, would sound the death knell of more industries which may soon go out of business operations.
It explained that the alleged plot by the cartel, if not quickly arrested, will not only cause injuries on manufacturing industries but will also lead to the total collapse of the economy, thereby causing unemployment as more industries will soon wind down their operations.
The group appealed to President Buhari and his economic team to urgently wade into the matter even as it called on the leadership of the National Assembly led by the Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan, to adopt legislative processes to unravel the plot.
“Before embarking on any policy of this kind, we implore the leadership of National Assembly to prevail on the Minister for Power to organise a public debate wherein, stakeholders, interest groups, associations as well as representatives of non-govermental organizations (NGOs) would be involved in order to submit their positions before hand,” the statement added.
The group also urged the 36 state governors under the auspices of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum to rally round its members in a bid to arrest job losses and deficit in internally generated revenue (IGR), stressing that many industries had collapsed in Kano, Kaduna, Zamfara, Lagos, Ogun and other states of the federation, while many others are operating below capacities.
It equally alleged that some Discos have found their ways to cause policy somersault by mis-regulating the system, increasing electricity tariff as well as planned to cancel eligible customers which is the only avenue for the electricity generation (Gencos) companies to sell close to 3,000 megawatts (mw) of stranded electricity that Discos are not able to evacuate.
They stressed that the “the privatisation act has set limitations for all Discos while the act of Electricity Generation Companies and TCN gave rooms for the Eligible Customers. This alert is in the collective interest of Nigerians”.
The group added that at the moment, transformers are being purchased by communities and associations for the comfort of their households, while Discos take advantage of this and claim returns on such efforts put in place by innocent residents in their budget.
According to them, despite the proclamation by the National Assembly, Discos are yet to invest on purchase of meters.
They challenged a one hour documentary to be aired on national television stations on their achievements to the Nigerian masses since the privatisation exercise as well as give adequate account of the fund released to them by the federal government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).