The nation’s power sector crisis has taken a turn for the worst following mass disconnection, which began a week ago, of historic debtors by all the electricity distribution companies, DISCOs, to protest the huge unpaid electricity bills by this class of consumers.
For now, all historic debtors, including residential, commercial, industrial and govern-ment establishments across the three tiers of government, would have to find alternative means of electricity supply until this debt issue is resolved.
Accoring to official reports, government establishments, including the military and security agencies alone, were owing the DISCOs some N93 billion. The figure comprises N39.1 billion pre-privatisation of electricity assets and N39.5 billion post-privatisation.
Also thrown into the debt calculation was the outstanding interest of N15 billion, which the bulk trader charges DISCOs for late payment of their electricity bills, a situation that occurred as a result of non-settlement of electricity bills as at when due.
Three weeks ago, all the DISCOs took pages in national newspapers, where all historic debtors were given deadlines within which to pay their debts or have their electricity supply disconnected. Mr. Sunday Oduntan, Executive Director, Association of Nigeria Electricity Distributors, ANED, said weekend that his member-companies had to carry out its threat when it became obvious that there was nothing on the table.
He said: “Although we appreciate the efforts of the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo and the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, the stark reality is that there is nothing concrete to hold on to.
“Nothing for us in budget. No allowance for MDAs debt to DISCOs in the budget, even though we started discussion before the budget was passed.
“The indebtedness has become so huge that we are truly troubled about how the government would resolve this without a budgetary allocation.
“Oduntan, however, made it clear that the current mass disconnection protest embarked upon by DISCOs was not an exercise targeted at MDAs, “but all historic debtors”.
“This indebtedness is killing us; it is seriously impacting negatively on the entire value chain in the power sector equation.
Do not forget that only 25 percent of this debt actually belongs to DISCOs. “The rest are for other companies in the value chain– generating companies, bulk trader, gas suppliers, among others.
“So if you do not pay and you accumulate debt, what you are looking at is a possible total collapse of the entire power sector.
“That is what we seek to avert by this action. We need this fund to energise the power sector; to ensure electricity supply and to grow the sector.”