Power: Govt to clear MDAs’ N93bn electricity debts by end of year

*Electricity metres.

*Electricity metres.

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

18 June 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has disclosed the federal government’s plans to pay off legacy electricity debts owed to the 11 electricity distribution companies, DISCOs, in the country by its ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs, before the end of the year.

The Minister, who stated this yesterday while speaking at the public dialogue organised by the Kukah Centre in Abuja, noted that government must live by example if it expects its citizens to do the right thing.

Fashola stated that “We are in the process of winding down MDAs debt, I have written to the debt management office and I got a response from them proposing options to wind down the debts and I think as government, we must live by example, If we ask people to pay for what they use, then we must pay as well and I am determined to ensure that we do that.”

He explained that the Ministry of Defence, through the minister, was also acting in concert, adding that, “It is something we hope that before the end of the year, we wind down.”

The 11 Discos through the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors, ANED, has said that government’s MDAs owed about N93 billion in unpaid electricity bills over the years.

A breakdown of the debt profile showed that the Nigerian Army is the largest debtor with about N38 billion as at April ending, followed by the Nigerian Airforce with N3.09 billion, Navy N3.3 billion, Police N4.66 billion, Customs 528.78 million and Prisons N895.6 million.

Meanwhile, the minister also stated that the sustained sabotage of oil pipeline in the Niger Delta by militant groups has rendered the country’s public electricity supply system extremely vulnerable .

He stated this when he launched the Building Energy Efficiency Guideline (BEEG) for Nigeria, adding that in view of the frequency in breakage of pipelines that supply gas to thermal power plants in the country, the government has stepped up its effort to diversify the country’s energy sources.

He noted that the effort would include accelerating works on several hydropower projects, as well as other energy sources with the potential to minimise the impact that such cuts in gas supply exert on the power supply.

He emphasised that unless new energy sources were brought to the grid, militants and other criminal elements would continue to hold the country to ransom.

Meanwhile, the Association of Nigeria Electricity Distributors (ANED) on Friday commended Federal Government over its promise to pay the billion electricity debts owed Distribution Companies (Discos) by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government.

the Executive Director of ANED, Mr Sunday Oduntan, gave the commendation in an interview with journalists, said that Fashola was a man of his words and the ANED believed that the money would be paid as promised by him.

He commended Fashola for his promise to assist DISCOs to off-load electricity bills owed by this class of consumers.
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“We believe that Fashola cannot eat his words; he always fulfils his promise, but our fear is that the payment will pass through many stages before it turns its cash,” he said.

Oduntan said that the DISCOs would comment more on the matter only after the promise translates to cash.

“This is not the first time that such a promise will be made. It is good news but we can only react when it translates to cash,” he said.

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