MR. Abayomi Dawodu is the National Chairman of the coalition of Residence & Business Associations of Nigeria (CRBN).Â He has led the association to a number of high powered discussions with top functionaries of the Federal government and the National Assembly all in an effort to turn around the current power situation in the country.
In this interview with Vanguard’s Yemie Adeoye and Daniel Alfred he spoke out passionately on issues responsible for the nationwide blackout being faced by Nigerian’s on daily basis, while he also seizes the opportunity to call on all Nigerians to stop the payment of electricity bills by the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
According to him it amounts to fraud when payment is being solicited for services not rendered, especially by an agency of government.Â He also chastised the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) for not taking up the power issue in the country as they did the fuel hike issues.
The federal government has talked about 6000Mw in December, and just recently the Minster of power told the world that the country now generates 2900Mw of electricity, this was interpreted to mean that we only require 3100Mw to make up 6000Mw in two months what is your take on this?
There is a difference between been fooled and fooling oneself. We know and they have even made us to become electrical engineers on our own because we have made research, ask questions into how these things work isn’t it a shame for Nigeria to be celebrating 6000MW.
I said this thing on Super screen that the 6000MW is been touted, it is on one hand, the constancy of that 6000MW is on the other, the PR is just what they are doing. have you ever seen anything on ground because we move around a lot and we have not seen anything on ground to justify the 6000MW.
There is no newspaper publication, they said Nigeria for the first time hit 6000MW that very day, every part in Lagos state does not have power and it was in the newspaper. you see people are seeing things, they should not make people to start thinking that the leadership should not be trusted.
The minister for power can be saying what he is saying . He will not come to the Television or radio or the newspaper to say that it is not possible but we know that it is not possible. For everything, there is generation, there is transmission and there is distribution.
All these factors, have they not been taken care of.Â Very soon they will soon come to tell us that the river has dried in river Niger., a serpent is in the turbine. They should tell us the truth and if what we are advertising is give and take, They know that they cannot generate electricity for us.
Nigerians have now decided to be powering themselves, industries have decided to sink borehole for themselves. What we are advocating is until Nigeria can or the government can provide electricity round the clock we should not pay them (NEPA). And I have always been asking this question, what is the meaning of 419?
Is it not collecting money for services not rendered? Is it not taking money under false pretense? PHCN Nigeria is taking money under false pretense, they supply electricity for 2 hours in a day and they expect you to pay the full tariff. But on the whole we are made to pay this tariff which is not proper.
It is not good and it is not ideal. Another area is that not unless Nigerians should stop taking pains at paying NEPA, the federal government would not know that things are that bad. It is because they are still making money. Government wants to have a good name, they should just take their hands off electricity.
I have been making the comparisons between electricity and communication. In those days it takes you hours to go to Nitel at Onikan to phone a friend and family abroad but now that God so good they did it, they gave us GSM, every body now have access to handset and we have a choice, that is the beauty of it. We have a choice.
I want to emphasize again, the government before this, deregulated electricity. they unbundled the data, called it PHCN. Started off rigmaroles, distribution, transmission and whatever they call it. What is the business of the government with all these? Shouldn’t they go and look for genuine investors in electricity, in power to come to Nigeria and do it?
They have always argued that after the unbundling of PHCN, because of the moribund nature of the utility company, it has been very difficult to get foreign investors to come in. So what they said they wanted to do is to ensure that their capacity to generate, transmit and distribute is increased such that it can entice foreign investors. Do you buy into this argument?
I refuse to be fooled. If I was using a Toyota car, no longer functioning very well, I will sell it at the price that befits the status of that car. Now what is my business with refurbishing the car first and later start looking for a buyer. Does it make sense? To use moneys that can be used in other areas to refurbish that Toyota car, then to start shopping for a buyer.
Then another thing that is very crucial in this matter is the attitude, the attitude of those who are at the helm of affairs. You can’t go and tell Zain that you want to start doing one back door business with them because they know they are going to run short, they will not deal with you.Â The real issue is for them to take off their hands as they have done in the telecoms sector.
At times what readily comes to my mind is how many private universities do we have in Nigeria now? Consider the functionalities of those universities to those owned by the government, is it not the ones owned by the lecturers that they’ve refused to pay? The same thing is not happening in the private universities, the private primaries and secondary schools.Â The way forward for any country is public enterprise. They should stop fooling us, enough is enough!
This is the 21st century and Nigeria is still struggling with mere 6000MW. If you take a drive to Ilupeju and you are a true compatriot of Nigeria, you will be weeping. Because day in day out, many companies are dismantling they are moving to Ghana, the Gambia and most recently they have started to go to Egypt.
When Adams Oshiomiole was to become the labour president, Nigeria had close to 60 or 62 textile industries.Â When he was leaving, the country was left with about 21 textile industries and still counting, because many were still dismantling. if you say the labour congress should do something about education, they will now say it is not their problem. But the current labour president was thrown off the education sector and under his very nose universities are at home for close to four months not even a thought to help this people. What makes labour to be labour? I want somebody who can give me a better definition of labour. Labour means wealth!
And to create this wealth in the modern world, all you need is electricity. It is electricity that makes all these textiles and industries to run down.
Basically now, what you are saying is that the federal government has no business running business. And as it is now, are you that saying that Nigerians should not be patient for them till December when they promised us 6000 Mega watt, with the intent to further increase by 2010?
There is a way you make somebody who is a great promise breaker to be on his toes. if you know somebody, a friend who breaks promises at will and who tells you that promises are meant to be broken, there are ways to make that person stand on his toes.
The first thing is to let Nigerians stop collecting bills and paying NEPA or PHCN whatever their name is, while the industries should also follow suit. If all industries and corporate organisations should follow suit, the government will know that something terrible is happening.
The problem of this country can be summed up in one word GREED! The Nigeria Labour Congress is the grave digger of Nigeria. PHCN is the undertaker. And the Nigerian police are mere mourners. I can prove it beyond a reasonable doubt that the word corruption is stationed in Nigeria through the PHCN and not the police.
You have to walk in the periphery of a crime before a police man can apprehend you, if you drive against the traffic and you say he should not collect bribe from you, a police man that has AK47 and they will give him N20,000 naira. If he dies on active duty, his families are going to wait for another 10 to 30 years before they get the 20, 000 naira they are going to pay them. And all these things are the things I think that the Nigerian Labour congress should have sat down to do a serious research about. How do our retirees get their entitlement without sweat?
They had never for one day… not for one day, the Nigerian labour congress have not for one day called a conference or a symposium on how to solve the electricity issue in Nigeria. But when it comes to fuel where they will call them into one corner you can imagine their response. Do you think if there was electricity supply round the clock and they say they are increasing the fuel price, will it mean any thing to Nigerians? It is because there is no money; it is because there are no jobs, it is because people are proving unfit in the Nigerian project. That is it.
What manner of approach is your association putting in place to press home their demands? Are we expecting some protest marches and the likes from your group?
We have about seven ways of fighting this without throwing one punch. The thing is for Nigerian people to say that, they have to use the child’s philosophy to get attention. How do I mean? If a child’s diaper is wet, the child will start crying at a low tone, if the father or the mother doesn’t give him attention, he cries again if that child still doesn’t have an attention, it becomes a holler. It is the holler that we are about to do now.
So how do you intend to do this?
The holler is for all Nigerians, all industries to stop taking NEPA bills. Why should somebody come and tell you to pay for a service he didn’t give you. Why? Isn’t that stealing? And the federal government is behind those things.
So what you are saying is that Nigerians should go against the federal government’s directive that they should pay for the little amount of electricity supplied, is that what you are saying in essence?
There is no little amount of electricity, there is nothing like little amount of electricity.
But the PHCN will always tell you that they have a meter reading whatever amount of electricity that comes into your house and they cannot charge you for what you do not consume. So that is the reason they said the bills fluctuates. In a month they charge you N500 and in another they charge you N1000 naira, depending on the supply of electricity to your home for that month. What do you have to say?
I will come back to your first question, but I will quickly take this… it will expose the
PHCN in their counting force that there are no longer metre readers under them but they pay salaries to the meter reader.
When last did you see a meter reader in your house? They don’t read any meter any longer. They sit down and give you an estimated bill.
They call it estimated billing they confirm it that what they do is estimated billing. They just sit down somewhere and give you any amount. And I am going to give you an exposure which is called crazy bill. My brother there is nothing like crazy bill, all we have is crazy stealing. This is how they do, every month when they want to strike, they will take an area under their undertaken, that is why I said they are undertaker of the most of Nigeria.
In their undertaking, they will pick an area and it is usually areas very long. And in any area, say they worth, lags worth contains at least more that.
At worst, 10 streets. The shortest street will have about ten houses. That is, times ten, one hundred. If they want to do it they will start at random. Today you pay ten Naira for electricity; in October if they want to deal with you they will give you one hundred and ten naira as a crazy bill.
And if you go there to make a presentation, what they tell you, the language all over town is go and pay first. You will now go and pay one hundred and ten naira, additional hundred naira to the normal fee; ten naira that you pay. You had said that when it gets to November they will now revert to your ten Naira. What happens to excess of one hundred naira you paid in October, multiplied by the number of houses they dealt with, what happened to it, where did the money go?
All these things are the reason why we are advocating that some industries or all the remaining industries should just fight for themselves. Let them stop paying NEPA bills. If you can imagine how much these companies spend on diesel and who are the diesel suppliers any way, are they not the grave diggers and the undertakers? And they will be hitting blames on the Nigerian police that Nigerian police id corrupt.
They created the avenue for the police to mess them up.Â They created the avenue for the EFCC to mess them up. if you don’t steal, what will the police come and do in your house? I know the difference between the Nigerian police and PHCN.
if a child is born on a maternity table right now, that child will start feeling the pinch of power outage right away, but I know of some people till the time they went to their graves, a police man never touched their shirt. But tell me is there anybody who can escape from the hardship brought on by the PHCN, tell me is there any body?