13 July 2018, Sweetcrude, Lagos — The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola has directed the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading, NBET, to work with the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, to fashion out ways to ensure that the electricity distribution companies, DisCos improve the remittance of their collection and also start to pay their debts.
In a statement, the Ministry of Power, Works, and Housing, Fashola said ensuring that DisCos remit their collections and pay their debts would help to promote stability in the power sector.
“This business cannot progress if debtors do not pay their debts”, he said.
Stating, however, that it is neither his intention nor that of government to take over the business of the DisCos, the Minister declared that, “on the contrary, it is Government’s desire to see DISCOs thrive and flourish in a competitive environment”, adding that, “In the period when they are not yet ready, willing, or able, life must go on and we must find solutions and substitutes as we have seen in other sectors”.
Such sectors where other substitutes have been provided, he said, include the Broadcasting, Newspaper and Telecommunication Sectors where, according to him, those who could not compete conceded and left the stage “gloriously without breaking down the system”, while those who could compete have brought better living conditions to Nigerians.
Saying that the policy directives should not be seen as anti-Privatisation, Fashola, who said they were meant to ginger all stakeholders to brace up to their responsibilities to serve the people, added that he remained convinced that Privatisation is the way forward.
“Privatisation has brought us mega value in Broadcasting; it has brought us better value in Newspapers, Telecommunications and Banking and other sectors of our national life and I remain convinced that it will deliver in Power”.
“This is not a time to trade blames, because there is enough to go round; rather it is a time to reiterate everybody’s responsibility and urge all of us to brace up, to do what we are obliged to do, which is to serve the people, he said, adding, “I suspect that these facts may appear like a red flag to the bulls of anti-privatization, but I remain convinced that privatization is the way forward”.
Recalling that when the public complained about the tariff approved by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, he was the one that stood in the forefront of explaining to the public even though it was the Discos who collect the tariff.
Fashola declared, “In the face of this picture, where we have power to sell, with more to come, the number of complaints coming to Government for meters, which the DISCOs should supply, and for estimated billings, and mass disconnections when not everybody is owing, cannot continue”.
“Government must act and will do so. The DisCos bought these assets with their eyes opened, and they must compete to deliver or exit”, Fashola declared, adding that small businesses who need very little power are not getting enough because the DisCos could not take the power to them.