By Simon Ebegbulem
BENIN—EDO State Government has said facts on ground across the country suggest that private sector operators, especially the Electricity Distribution Companies, DISCOs, are not ready to provide power to Nigerians, lamenting that despite the privatization of the power sector, local, state and Federal Governments are still buying transformers to ensure that Nigerians get electricity.
This came as the government insisted that the nation must fix the power sector problems to think of development and better life for the citizens, saying “Failure to fix it, we will continue to have brain drain and industries will continue to leave this county for other nations.”
Speaking through the state deputy governor, Mr. Philip Shaibu, when members of the House Committee on Power, led by its chairman, Daniel Asuquo, visited, the government disclosed that the state was yet to get its shares of transformers it purchased on behalf of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, and urged the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, to look into the activities of private sector operators in the electricity industry.
The deputy governor, who noted that unless the country solved the problems in the power sector, it would be difficult for the nation to experience economic growth, saying, “The first motion I moved in the House was the issue of power, where I insisted that fixed charges and bulk metering should be abolished and that notice must be given to consumers before electricity is disrupted. And fortunately the House has taken it as a duty to look into these problems in the power sector. I thank God for the motion I moved on the floor of the House because after that fixed charges were abolished.
“But I want to say that we in Edo State are still experiencing bulk metering. They come to your house to disconnect electricity at will. I am also aware that when the issue of privatization came up, a committee was set up to check the assets of the PHCN. We are aware that local governments and states participated in buying transformers in the communities, and there were agreements that such assets were supposed to be returned to the states or converted to equity shares. I can tell you that I do not know where Edo State’s own is.
“For me, on the issue of power generation, I think the DISCOS are not ready for business in Nigeria because they have done several things to show un-seriousness in the business. So, I think the NERC needs to look seriously into the activities of the DISCOS because the managements of these facilities are not doing well.
“While I was in the state Assembly I was told we cannot speak on power because it was in the exclusive list. That was what informed my motion when I got to the House of Representatives since I could now speak on the exclusive list. I think Nigeria must first of all find solution to the problems in the power sector then other things will take shape.”