—Says Benin, Niger owe Nigeria N1.2bn
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA –THE Presidency on Tuesday explained that Nigeria entered into bilateral agreements to exports electricity to Niger, Benin and Togo so that the three countries will not build dams on River Niger.
The Presidency also said that the total indebtedness of Niger to Nigeria is USD 16 million, while Benin owes USD four million, adding that the actual cost of electricity generated within 2018-2019 by all the electricity generation companies in Nigeria was about N1.2 trillion ($4 billion).
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The clarification came on the heels of the report by a national daily (not Vanguard) that Nigeria exports US81.4 billion electricity on credit in the midst of a persistent blackout.
A statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu in Abuja, Tuesday, described the media report as “most disappointing”, adding that “sensationalism has dominated the thinking and ethos of institutions that citizens look up to with trust, confidence and reliability.”
Describing the said report as hyperbolic and terribly misleading, the Federal Government said that apart from the fact that the figure quoted was far from accurate, out-dated and not reflective of the current reality, the overall cost of power generated and sold by Nigeria in the period covered by report was not anywhere close to what was mentioned by the paper.
According to the statement, “The actual cost of electricity generated within the said timeframe (2018-2019) by all the electricity generation companies in Nigeria was about N1.2 trillion ($4 billion).
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“Over 90% of the electricity generated was distributed and consumed by consumers across the 11 electricity distribution companies in the country.
“Power exported to Niger, Benin and Togo based on Multilateral Energy Sales Agreement with the Government of Nigeria is on the basis that they would not dam the waters that feed our major power plants in Kainji, Shiroro and Jebba.
“As of the last review in 2019, the amount of indebtedness to all three customers stood at $69 million, subsequent upon which several payments were made to NBET. Much of this has been repaid by the debtor nations.
“As of today, Niger owes only USD 16 million and Benin, USD 4 million, adding up to the Naira equivalent of about N1.2bn.
“The essence of said bilateral agreements, by which we give them power and they do not build dams on the River Niger means that Nigeria and her brotherly neighbours had avoided the unfolding situation of the Nile River between the sovereign states of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt.”
It advised the newspaper to seek clarification from the market operator which is the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, when writing and report, noting that, “This process of fact-checking only improves your standing in the public arena.”