03 July 2015, Abuja – The Nigerian Electricity Consumer Advocacy Network, which was inaugurated by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission about two months ago, has collapsed.
While members of the group stated that its collapse was due to NERC’s refusal to provide the start-up grant, which it promised during the inauguration, the commission argued that it would be improper to fund the body.
NECAN was inaugurated on April 27, 2015 by NERC to effectively challenge operators in the power sector in order to address complaints arising from electricity tariff setting, metering and billing by the power firms.
The Chairman, NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi, had during the inaugural meeting of NECAN, stated that in spite of the noble intent and progressive actions of the commission, the outcomes of its endeavours were still not fair to the consumers, stressing that “until consumers are organised and able to contend against the operators, the democracy bargain in the Nigerian electricity market will remain deficient.”
But this may never happen as the advocacy group has been crippled by lack of funds as a result of the refusal of NERC to support it financially.
This, however, was not implemented by NERC, as it argued that the TOR was only meant for one of the meetings it had with the NECAN team.
The Chairman, NECAN Steering Committee, Mr. Tomi Akingbogun, told our correspondent in Abuja on Thursday that the group’s members were shocked by NERC’s response when it contacted the commission for the start-up fund.
He said, “We had several meetings, started various registration processes and contacted all zones of Nigeria. We made good progress. All these were financed by the interim members on the premise that they will be refunded from the promised fund from NERC.
“By May 25, we updated NERC with our activities so far and requested for part of the starting fund, especially to secure the office space, equip it and employ workers. NERC did not replied the letter, but on follow up, we were shocked by the verbal response from the chairman that NERC had decided not to support NECAN financially.
“This is like leading a team to cross the sea and abandoning them at the sea.”
When contacted, the NERC boss told our correspondent that it would be improper for the commission to fund the network, stressing that it made this known to the interim committee members during a meeting.
Amadi said, “When they came to NERC, I said that since we are the regulator, we cannot financially sponsor one group of stakeholder or the other, that the best thing is to support them in terms of training or any other way. But we cannot give them money. We went out of our way to mobilise them, lodge them in hotels and train them free of charge.
“The terms of reference was developed as a framework, which was used for the workshop. In fact, some of their members said it was not good for NERC to fund them because NERC would influence their behaviour. So, that reference was a draft proposal, which was printed on the day of the meeting for them to make comments.”