03 February 2018, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Niger State government is wading into the electricity crisis in the state by offering to pay Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) the sum of N60 million to offset some of the debts owed the company by the state.
Prior to now, the AEDC had decried huge debt owed by its customers in Niger state.
At the stakeholders’ meeting that was presided over by the Deputy Governor, Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Ketso, attended by representatives of (AEDC), Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) and the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) held at the government house to evaluate the causes and solutions to the erratic power supply to the state.
Over the last two months, youths in the state have been protesting against AEDC for epileptic electricity supply to the state despite that the state houses three hydroelectric power dams. They also recently served the company a four week ultimatum to quit the state if it fails to meet its demands.
The Deputy Governor, Ketso, told the AEDC officials led by the managing director, Engr. Ernest Mupwaya that the state government is ready to partner the company to enable it to provide the adequate supply of electricity to the people and that it will not accept anything less than that.
The AEDC on its part said it is working to strengthen its quality of service to the consumers, pointing out that it is also blocking all loopholes in the system.
The company also acknowledged the desire of the people of the State to have significant improvement in power supply, but emphasized that such increase in electricity supply must be matched by an equal level of payment to sustain the company, stating categorically that Niger has been getting 20 per cent of the Disco’s energy allocation from the TCN since 2016.
The AEDC claims its customers in Niger State owe N49.58 billion debt in electricity bills. The issue of debt in electricity bills is one that has overwhelmed the power distribution companies nationwide.
It is in this light that the AEDC which supplies electricity to Federal Capital Territory, Kogi, Nasarawa and Niger has stated the total arrears on customers bills in Niger.
The situation was made known by the the Managing Director, Engr. Ernest Mupwaya during a presentation at the Niger State Council on Quality and Constant Electricity Supply in Minna, the Niger State capital.
He said, annually, the Distribution Company (DisCo) incurs an average debt accumulation of N11.48bn, and that the total debt owed by both small and large electricity customers has risen to N49.58bn.
Mupwaya acknowledged the desire of the people of the State to have significant improvement in power supply, but emphasized that such increase in electricity supply must be matched by an equal level of payment to sustain the company.
He also emphasized the efforts of AEDC to improve power supply to the region saying Niger has been getting 20 per cent of the DisCo’s energy allocation from the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) since 2016.
Mupwaya however noted that of the average N1.5bn electricity supply bill delivered to the Niger Region monthly, only about N450 million revenue is collected.
In an attempt at ensuring their customers of improved services, Mr. Ahmed Shekarau, a spokesman for AEDC noted that, “However, because we know that our customers in Niger State, just as in the FCT, Kogi and Nasarawa states, are anxious to have meters, we are considering putting bulk meters at transformer points so that clusters of customers such as villages or estates would be billed in accordance with readings taken from such meters.”
A resolution was passed at the meeting to set up a 15-man joint Niger Stakeholders-AEDC Committee to develop a comprehensive mechanism on improving electricity supply in the state with a corresponding increase in bills payment.
The committee to be chaired by the Niger State Commissioner for Works, Alhaji Ibrahim Balarabe will comprise three representatives from the state government, three from AEDC, two from the youth groups, and one each from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), TCN, the security agencies and the media.
Earlier, the Niger State Deputy Governor and Chairman of the Council, Alhaji Ahmed Muhammad Ketso, said the administration is passionate about improving electricity just as the residents are yearning for improvement in power supply which gave rise to convening the meeting to seek solutions.
Participants at the meeting acknowledged the challenges facing AEDC even as they appeal to the company to do more to ensure improved power supply.