By Oscarline Onwuemenyi
The Administrator of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Mallam Imamudeen Talba has blamed the collapsed state of the nationâ€™s energy sector on the lack of discipline and inefficiency in the usage of electricity.
According to him, Nigerians need to learn to conserve energy and build greater efficiency in their consumption of energy, even as the nation awaits improvements in the energy situation.
Talba, who was speaking to journalists on Thursday at the background of a Power Consumer Assembly, organised by the Commission in Gwagwalada area of Abuja , noted that poor energy management was compounding the nationâ€™s power situation.
He said, â€œThere is a great need for more education in the proper uses of energy, on energy conservation in the country because we need to conserve the little supply currently available while the sector is being improved upon.â€
He added that, â€œThe need to conserve energy cannot be over_emphasised because for a country whose requirement of electricity is estimated at above 20,000MW but which presently has an average generation of 3,000MW, electricity consumers must be able to properly utilize available supply efficiently and effectively.â€
The NERC boss explained that the driving force and focus of establishing the Power Consumer Assembly was to ensure efficiency and quality of service delivery to all electricity consumers.
â€œThe Assembly is an established platform to educate electricity consumers and bring all stakeholders together to exchange ideas on how to ensure safe, adequate, reliable and affordable power in Nigeria ,â€ he said.
Talba, who explained that the assembly would be used to also educate Nigerians on health and safety issues due to the growing spate of electrocutions across the country, disclosed that last year alone, the commission recorded more than 45 deaths and 141 people injured from electricity accidents.
According to him, most of the reported accidents and cases of electrocutions were as a result of the operatorsâ€™ disregard for safety regulations and procedures or the publicâ€™s disregard for safety regulations including encroachment on PHCNâ€™s right of way.
He noted that in furtherance of its regulatory mandate, the commission was introducing another system of monitoring the quality of service and ensuring enhanced responsibilities between service providers and consumers.
Talba further noted that the commission was â€œnot unmindful of the numerous billing and metering related complaints by electricity consumers,â€ adding that it has established a committee to investigate such complaints.
â€œHowever, we would like to categorically state that customers are not pay for the replacement of meters. Replacement of the analogue meters with prepaid meters or any other is free, and customers should refuse to yield to blackmail by unscrupulous power officials,â€ he said.
The NERC boss added that the committee so established would look into all issues relating to corruption by officials, as well as issues of estimated and direct billings, and purchases of transformers by customers. â€œVery soon, the committee is expected to address all these problems and present its report to the government. Our intention is to make the power sector efficient better positioned to serve Nigerians as well as help ensure growth and development of the country,â€ he added.