NIGERIANS TO FED GOVT: TAKE URGENT ACTION ON POWER CRISIS
Nigerians are seeking urgent action on the power crisis.
There are tales of woe across the country on the worsening electricity supply.
Many businesses struggle to stay afloat because of the huge spending on diesel. Many other firms have been forced to close down.
Some consumers, especially those yet to be metered, lamented that despite the epileptic supply, they are ripped off through very high bills.
Others urged the Federal Government to reverse the power sector privatisation.
President, Nigeria Consumer Protection Network, Kunle Olubiyo, told our correspondent: “The President needs to wield the big hammer.
“There is no better time than now to review the privatisation programme. It was hurriedly packaged in 2013.”
He tasked the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to sit up.
Besides, he insisted that President Muhammadu Buhari must call stakeholders meeting to know whether the poor situation is due to sabotage or as a result of obsolete equipment.
He said: “There is no better time than now for the government to bring all the stakeholders together to know whether the limitation is as a result of aged equipment or deliberate load rejection. The regulator needs to sit up.”
The activist noted that it was an irony that after several financial interventions from the Federal Government and donor agencies, Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) have performed poorly.
The Central Bank of Nigeria recently released N250 billion to the DisCos through the National Mass Metering Programme.
According to Olubiyo, the DisCos are now generating more revenue but have failed to meet their customers’ power demands.
He said the energy distributors are frivolous with their revenues.
The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), National Vice President, Alhaji Abubakar Maigandi, said the power situation is affecting both household and business operations.
He said businesses now mainly use solar and generating sets.
Why there is supply drop, by DisCos
Some distribution companies blamed the situation on the supply drop from the national grid.
The Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC) appealed to customers within its four catchment states to exercise patience until the situation improves.
It said it used to receive 6.5 per cent electricity generation from the national grid for distribution to the four states – Rivers, Bayelsa, Cross River and Akwa Ibom – but that what it gets has dropped significantly, forcing it to cut power supply to consumers.
Acting Manager Corporate Communications, Chioma Aninwe, said the PHEDC should not be blamed for the situation.
She assured that the power outages experienced in the state would be rectified as soon as the 6.5 per cent electricity supply is restored.
PHEDC said in a statement: “Please be informed that the intermittent outages you are currently experiencing within our franchise states are as a result of power generation constraint.”
Electricity consumers in the Akwa Ibom State threatened not to pay electricity bills for May and June because of worsening outages in the past two months.
The Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) also explained that the power outages being experienced by customers within its franchise areas are due to a drop in power allocation from the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), caused by a low receipt from the Generation Companies (GenCos).
Its spokesman Busolami Tunwase promised that the power supply would improve as soon as allocation is increased.
She said customers were notified about the development.
Tunwase said: “Kindly note that the power outage currently being experienced within our franchise (Oyo, Ogun, Kwara, and Osun regions) is due to a drop in power allocation from the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).
“We assure our valued customers that power supply will improve as soon as power allocation increases.”
IBDC spokesman in the Abeokuta Office, Mr Bada Ayodeji, also blamed low power generation for the epileptic supply.
He said IBDC can only distribute what is available, stressing that the drop in power supply is a national issue because of the inadequate power generation from GenCos.
He noted that about 12 power stations across the country are having issues.
He said the remaining five stations cannot serve the country adequately.
According to him, IBDC was getting between 25 and 40 megawatts which were inadequate for Abeokuta consumers but now gets 10 megawatts.
He said areas that used to get four or five hours of power supply per day now get about two hours so that others can use from the same lean megawatts.
Businesses, institutions lament
Some institutions, businesses and residents lamented the epileptic power supply by IBEDC in the last two weeks.
A community head in Ariyibi, Apete area of Ibadan, the Oyo capital, Alhaji Akeem Omolaja, said small businesses that rely on electricity were worst-hit.
“It’s over a week that we’ve had electricity supply,” he said.
Director of Public Communication at the University of Ibadan (UI), Mr. Olatunji Oladejo, said power supply had been a problem in the institution, adding that UI was exploring alternatives.
Spokesman of The Polytechnic, Ibadan, Soladoye Adewole, said the institution had no steady power supply in the last few weeks.
“The Rector’s office runs on generator between 9 am and 12 pm, and 2 pm to 4 pm. This applies to other units in the institution,” he said.
Residents of Katsina said the power situation has affected the cost of doing business, with some forced to close.
A business centre operator, Odekwu Efeturi, told our correspondent that he spends at least N50,000 to fuel his generators monthly.
Residents of Anambra State believe that the power situation is not improving.
It is a similar tale from Awka, the state capital, to Onitsha, Ekwulobia and Nnewi.
An Onitsha resident, Stanley Obidike, said there had not been electricity supply for three weeks.
A petrol attendant, Mrs Sandra Nwobu, said it appeared as if the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) had abandoned Amenyi in Awka.
She said the area was getting “quarter light” with low voltage.
In Lafia, Nasara State capital, business owners said they run at a loss due to high tariff and insufficient supply.
A resident, Mrs Agbo Rita, said: “I run a supermarket and the power supply is quite poor. Even when we anticipate better supply, the opposite is what we get.”
A civil servant, Abdullahi Mohammed, said: “My family buys water in trucks because there is no electricity to pump water. We enjoy less than five hours of electricity in a week. My wife can’t store food items in our refrigerator.”
Residents of Umuahia, the Abia State capital, and Aba, the commercial centre, lamented irregular electricity supply in the state by the EEDC.
A resident of Aba, Jude Okwu, urged the government to do something about estimated billing.
Okwu said: “Why would a household of a three-bedroom flat with only a refrigerator, television, a ceiling fan and a standing fan be paying N15, 000 per month? Am I running a factory in my house?
“I rarely iron my clothes at home because I give them to my dry-cleaner. I live alone. I leave early and close late. Why should I be paying such an exorbitant electricity bill? I have a meter that is still working.
“When they do read the meter, I pay N1, 000 to N2, 000 and since they stopped reading it, I now get bills of N15, 000 monthly.”
He accused EEDC of ignoring his complaints.
A resident of Umuahia, Mrs Charity Iheme, said the Umunkama area and other parts of Ngwa road had been without electricity supply for several months.
“I have never seen heartless people such as EEDC. Do you know that in the absence of power supply in our area, they still bring electricity bills to us?” she asked.
Residents of Warri, Effurun and its environs decried the continuous slide in power supply, calling on the Federal Government to address the problem.
A welder in Agbarho, Ughelli North, Mr Ogagaoghene Emakpor, said he spends N3,000 on average daily.
“I pay at least N15,000 a month, whether there is light or no light because ‘NEPA’ must come with an estimated bill. I buy at least N3,000 worth of diesel daily,” he said.
Spokesman of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC), Warri office, Helen Ogagarue, blamed the drop in supply to some areas on the collapse of the national grid and other transmission challenges.
Some parts of Abakaliki, the state capital, experience load shedding. Supply is shared between certain neighbourhoods on different days to reduce the transformer load.
Some residents complained about a slow response in fixing faults by EEDC officials.
Afikpo North and South local government areas have barely had power supply for five years.
A former state lawmaker from the area, Maria Udeh Nwachi, was suspended from the House of Assembly in 2015 for allegedly leading a protest that later turned violent.
A resident, Michael Oko Nnachi, lamented that the situation has led to the folding up of many businesses.
An EEDC official, who pleaded not to be named, blamed the situation on the inability of the Federal Government to complete a substation that is being constructed in Amasiri, Afikpo to serve the town and environs.
The official noted that the community has become too large for the power line from Abakaliki.
“The reason you see improvement in Abakaliki is that EEDC upgraded the substation as many facilities there had broken down.
“One of the transmitters blew up and we imported a new one. There is no substation in Afikpo and it has become too large that the feeder line from Abakaliki cannot carry it anymore,” the source said.
The contract for the substation was awarded in 2011 to a Chinese company but has not been completed.
A cross-section of residents and business owners in Cross River State decried the inconsistency in electricity supply.
Executive Secretary, Calabar Chambers of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, Mr. Ken Asim-Ita, said: “Some days, you may not even have electricity at all. Rarely would you have supply lasting for 10 to 12 hours in a day.”
Some residents of Port Harcourt, the state capital, accused the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHDC) of “generating darkness”.
Those who live in Trans-Amadi, Odili Road, Agip Estate and Rukpokwu areas said they enjoy up to 10 hours of power supply daily, but residents of the Diobu area decried high estimated billing.
Electricity consumers in Akure, the Ondo State capital and environs scored the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) zero.
A cross-section of artisans and residents in Akure said they used to get electricity supply of between four to eight hours a day.
As at the time Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu came to power in 2017, over 1000 communities in nine local governments were without electricity.
Six local government areas in Ondo South were the worst hit as there had been no power supply in the past 10 years until the governor’s intervention.
Some communities in Akokoland got connected to the national grid through self-help.
A hairdresser, Mrs Adesina Adenike, said they had power supply between 9 pm and 3 am and sometimes between 1 pm and 3pm.
A fashion designer, Temitope Animaseun, said she spent about N1500 daily to fuel her generator.
She stated that she would save at least N39,000 monthly if the power supply was regular.
The spokesman for the BEDC, Micheal Barnaba, urged those affected to make a formal report.
He said power supply depended on the bandwidth of a consumer.
Barnabas said bandwidths were allocated based on the ability of a consumer to pay, adding that consumers on bandwidth ‘A’ pay higher than consumers on bandwidth E.
He explained that bandwidth ‘A’ consumers get 20 hours of power supply daily.
Ogun residents said electricity supply from the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) has worsened, hurting socioeconomic activities. They get less than three hours of electricity supply daily.
Some of the affected areas include Presidential Hilltop, Obasanjo Hilltop, Lukosi, Abiola-way, Elite, Obantoko, Alabata, Osi-Ele, Eleweran, Asero, Lafenwa, Sabo, Mile 2, Rounder, Soyoye, Alamala, Ayetoro, Legends, Okelewo and environs.
Also affected are Akinolugbade, Ake, Ijaye, Ijeja, Omida, Panseke, Onikolobo, Adigbe, Sapon, Totoro, Adatan, Okejigbo, Kemta, Somorin, Ilugun – Itoko, and environs.
A medium-scale laundry business operator in Obantoko area of Abeokuta, Adeyinka Rufus, said inadequate power supply adversely affects his business.
He said: “Power supply barely lasts up to three hours and sometimes, the voltage is too low to power my tools.
“Running on the generator is hurting my profit margin and I dare not increase my cost of service because some of the customers may vote with their legs.”
It is a similar situation in Bayelsa State, which is under the PHED. Consumers said the power supply deteriorated between last year and this month.
A businessman, who simply identified himself as Benny, said he spent close to N2million on generators a month and was forced to downsize.
According to him, PHED officials would only supply power when it was time to bill consumers.
“Business operators are groaning in the state. The power supply is far from being epileptic, it is something beyond description,” he said.
Consumers in Edo State, under the BEDC, are groaning over epileptic power supply in the Southsouth state and weeks of blackout in most communities.
Major stakeholders called on the Federal Government, through the regulatory agency, to call BEDC and other electricity distribution companies to order.
An activist, Kola Edokpayi, said Edo residents were going through a tough time at the hands of BEDC officials, while outrageous bills would still be brought for post-paid customers.
In Imo, Business owners and residents urged the Federal Government to wake up to its responsibility.
Chidiadi Ihim, a welder, said he and other artisans were running at a loss.
A computer operator at the Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, Owerri, Festus Obiefula, said it was very expensive to run the business due to an epileptic power supply.
A petrol station manager in Lagos, Ismail Omikunle, said he switched to Solar to reduce reliance on the generator.
“We used to spend over N2 million on diesel monthly, too much for the sustainability of our business. We had to go for solar power which is less costly,” he said.
Omikunle said the station paid N130,000 monthly bill from Ikeja Electric at its Itire branch due to irregular power supply.
A resident of Ilasamaja, Mushin, Mrs Taye Olakunle at Powerline, said the lack of adequate power supply was hurting her business.
“I spend a lot of money to buy fuel to keep the business afloat. I’m not making a profit but I need to keep my customers from looking elsewhere,” she said.
Abbey Alabi at Olusanya Street said he spent N12,000 to fuel his generator in May.
Hoteliers, artisans and Osun residents decried the drop in electricity supply to less than 10 hours daily.
A hotel owner, Mr Jide Bewaji, lamented the cost of diesel.
A welder, Waheed Saka, said: “It is so unfortunate that we are now paying for what we did not use.”
Residents of Damaturu, Yobe and Enugu said there had been improved supply in recent times.
Some Damaturu residents said they enjoy about 18 to 20 hours supply.
A civil servant, Musa Abubakar, said: “My only problem is the outrageous bills. But in term of the power supply, I give them a pass mark.”
Residents of Enugu metropolis praised the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) on the improvement in electricity supply.
One of them, Emeka Ugwuh, described the development as a healthy and beneficial one for businessmen.
Spokesman of EEDC, Mr Emeka Ezeh, said the recent improvement in supply was the result of investments the EEDC made in strengthening its network and in constructing additional lines to reload the existing ones.
“We deployed relief transformers and expanded the technical team so that even when faults occur, we have people to clear it and restore the line.
“The tunnel injection substation was upgraded; Trans-Ekulu injection substation was upgraded, and another line was constructed from Ugwuogo Nike,” he said.