What manner of privatisation?
Sir: What kind of privatisation of the power sector did we undertake in his country? From NEPA to PHCN. You would have expected that life will be made easier to some degree with their arrival but alas! It seems to be worse or at the same level as the previous front-runners of the power sector. But can people, give what they do not have? I doubt so.
I remember expressing misgivings to an acquaintance on the workability of these companies when the issue of privatisation of the power sector came up a moment ago and she said, ‘‘have faith Simon, do not be a pessimist.’’ I chose to be a cynic because the process leading to the privatisation into private hands was faulty. You do no privatise national assets that are dead and handoff totally from the daily practices that will lead to its recovery. You either go into partnerships to resuscitate it or use the ‘will of state’ to bring it around for the ‘good of the state.’
Governments that mean well for the people must first revive dead companies, put the infrastructure in place, and provide efficient services to the populace to a level beyond 65% such that when they privatise these assets – the populace would not even know.
The transformation would be seen in the improved delivery of services by the new owners. How can you explain a situation whereby power companies do not hold stakeholder meetings with customers regularly and with many other people that they serve? All they care about is sending bills and circulars with the tone of judgment, not soliciting but directing you to do such-and-such. Would it be too much of a novel idea for them to arrange meetings with communities of people – so we could express dissatisfaction with services or otherwise, discuss the acceptance of new tariffs or otherwise and proffer solutions to the myriads of problems facing the power sector? Do these people even see us as stakeholders? If they do how come they have very poor customer service? I remember when I was a leaseholder in a block of flats in Port Harcourt where every flat had a meter allocated to it. I kept on getting outrageous bills even though I did not use industrial appliances. This went on for months until I suspended every other assignment for the PHEDC office.
Surprisingly, the marketer whose duty it is to read my meter told me, ‘‘we placed you on estimated bills because your meter stopped working some months ago.’’ How would you know that I asked? ‘‘Because it stopped reading and the numbers on the meter are not properly aligned,’’ she said.
Simon Abah wrote from Abuja.