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Poor electricity: Fashola seeks support for NERC to sanction erring operators

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[FILES] Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola. Photo: TWITTER/FMPWH

The former Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has urged stakeholders to support the regulator in the power sector, Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), in exercising its powers to sanction erring operators, who refuse to serve consumers efficiently.

Fashola, while fielding questions from Senators at the ministerial screening, said issues of consumer complaints and regulations should be directed to the regulatory agency for effective administration and compliance.

“Let me speak to two powers that the regulator has in Sections 73, 74 and 75 of the Electric Power Sector. One of the powers that were vested in that law by the regulator is to undertake an investigation and do several things. It could mean demanding the license of the licensee or even canceling the license as we have seen in cases like the Central Bank of Nigeria, and as we have seen in some cases in EFCC, Nigeria Broadcasting Commission.

“So the powers of the regulator for making the reform work must be targeted towards ensuring minimum service levels, licensing conditions are met and until we fully exhaust those powers, it will be premature to say that the reform is not working. Often times, when we privatise things, who goes back to check the service level compliance? Who pulls a lever of compulsion or caution as the case may be for us? I think that is something we should spend time to look at.

“If we want to know about issues wrong with SIM cards, call drops and the likes, we do not go to the ministry of Communication, we go to NCC. If we want to know what is happening in banks, we do not go to the Ministry of Finance, but to the Central Bank of Nigeria, and it is the regulator we must all support now to exercise the fullest powers that have been given to the regulator and there is a lot of power there that they can act on behalf of us and I always say, I am a consumer myself”, he added.

In late September 2013, just a little over a month before the handover of the Gencos and Discos to the private investors, the then Chairman, Technical Committee of the National Council on Privatisation, Atedo Peterside, gave some insights into the purpose of the privatisation at a forum organised by the Bankers’ Committee in Abuja.

“The purpose of privatising the Discos and Gencos was not just to transfer ownership of the assets. The primary purpose was to bring into play new owners with ‘deep pockets’ who could finance, and/or access financing for the rapid restoration of lost capacity, and/or add significant new capacity to make up for decades of government neglect and mismanagement,” he said.

However, the financial viability of the Nigerian electricity supply industry remains the most significant challenge threatening the sustainability of the power sector, according to NERC.

The Commission had said, “The liquidity challenge is partly attributed to the non-implementation of cost-reflective tariffs, high technical and commercial losses exacerbated by energy theft, and consumers’ apathy to payments under the widely prevailing practice of estimated billing.”

Fashola also said that the ministry had secured the release of 720 stranded containers containing transmission equipment.

According to him, the equipment has been utilised to improve transmission lines across the country.

The former minister noted that the ministry had made significant efforts on off-grid electricity within the period of his stewardship.

Fashola listed the off-grid electricity executed by the government to include the electrification of Araria and Sura markets.

He said that a clear road map had been established for the electrification of other 350 markets and 37 federal universities using off-grid electricity.

The nominee also said that state governments were empowered by the constitution to generate, transmit and distribute power.

He explained further that there was the need for all stakeholders to support the regulators in the ministries to fully enforce the provision of the law in the discharge of their duties.


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