30 March 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The eleven Electricity Distribution Companies (Discos) operating in the country have disclosed that Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the federal, state and local government, including military and paramilitary formations in the country owe a total of N58 billion in unpaid electricity bills.
Of the amount, the Nigerian Army is said to owe eight out of the 11 Discos a total of N15 billion most of which dates back to 2013.
Giving a breakdown of the debt profile at a briefing in Abuja on Tuesday, the Executive Director, Research and Advocacy, Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), Sunday Oduntan, said the Nigerian Army owe the Benin Disco N2.3 billion, Eko Disco N1.9 billion and Ikeja Disco N1.6 billion.
Similarly, he said the Jos Electricity Distribution Company is owed N2 billion, Kaduna Electric N6.6 billion, Kano Disco N301 million, Port Harcourt Disco N1.3 billion and Yola Disco N435 million, as at 31st December, 2015.
Decrying the huge debt and its implications on their operations, Oduntan called on the federal government to help the Discos recover their debts from the MDAs, explaining that of the tariff, only 25 per cent is retained by the Discos, as 60 per cent goes to the generation companies, 11 per cent to the Transmission Company of Nigeria and 4 per cent to other stakeholders, including the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).
He further appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to also prevail on the Nigerian Army to stop assaulting the Discos staff over electricity supply, while lamenting a particular incident which occurred on the 6th of March, 2015, where an Army Major from the 33 Artillery Brigade in Ogun State, allegedly led other officers to the control room to brutalise a staff working at the injection substation.
He explained that the staff was ordered by the Major to switch the Army barracks back on immediately, after eight hours of supply, without allowing him time to carry out a safety check calls to determine if there were maintenance staff working on the lines.
According to Oduntan, “Such an incident could have easily resulted to the electrocution and death of any staff working on the lines as load shedding is usually scheduled with the knowledge of maintenance staff. The same barracks have not paid bills since 2013.
“Brutalisation by the Army must stop, the president should look into the matter,” he said.
He decried a situation where the Army would refuse to pay their electricity bills, nor accept power rationing which is usually done in the face of low load allocation to the Discos and resort to brutalising their staff, saying such a situation must stop as the Discos are private sector business firms operating in a democratic government.