06 July 2015, Abuja – The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has provided reasons why it decided to rethink on its proposed financial support for the new consumer advocacy group, the Nigerian Electricity Consumers Advocacy Network (NECAN) it helped initiate its formation.
NERC said recently in Abuja that its decision to withdraw its financial support for NECAN was informed by its regulatory stand as well as industry position that NECAN should have its operational independency, away from the regulator’s control.
It also maintained that funding NECAN would amount to regulatory partiality whereas industry operators could interpret the gesture as an unwholesome bias to other players in the sector. Such act, NERC explained would be unhealthy to the development of a value-driven electricity market in the country.
Chairman of NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi made this clarification available to THISDAY, following recent charges against it by the interim Chairman of NECAN, Chief Tomi Akingbogun, that it has withdrawn its proposed financial support for the network.
NECAN was initiated by NERC to advance consumers’ stakes in Nigeria’s electricity industry. The network by the intention of the regulator is expected to place consumers on a good pedestal to argue for accountable service delivery from operators in the market.
Akingbogun had accused NERC of pussy-footing in its pledge to provide NECAN with a take-off grant, as well as other forms of financial support in its formative stages.
According to him, “By May 25, we updated NERC with our activities so far and requested for part of the starting funds especially to secure the office space and equip it and employ staff.
NERC has not replied the letter, but on follow up, we were shocked by the verbal response from the chairman, Amadi that NERC has decided not to support NECAN financially.”
But in his response to the claim, Amadi said that other industry operators had in the wake of the development, reminded the Commission of the consequences of such partisan position.
“We were intimated with reactions from other parties in the sector and we realised that it will be wrong for us to fund the operations of NECAN,” Amadi said.
He further said: “If we go ahead to fund the activities of NECAN, it means that they will always want to do our bidding and that will mean that they could be an extension of the regulator or a stooge of the regulator.
That will be unfair to other parties in the sector. The Discos for instance, have their own framework on which they argue for their interest and NERC does not fund their activities. We want NECAN to do the same and not relying on NERC.”
Amadi said that the regulator will however contribute to the activities of NECAN by providing it with the relevant trainings it requires to stay active in the sector as well as advocating for its recognition amongst key industry players, and not necessarily giving it monies to fund its activities.
It was also learnt that the World Bank and one of the key consumer groups in the country, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) have indicated their willingness to provide NECAN with accountable support for its activities.
– This Day