21 persons in police trouble for killing 7 'witches' in Adamawa

….FG sold YEDC to us and we are at liberty to raise charges — new owner, Quest insists

By Umar Yusuf, Yola

GLOOM now rules the roost in Adamawa State following the sudden hike of electricity charges by about 200 percent by Quest Electricity Nigeria Limited, which recently bought over the  Yola Electricity Distribution Company, YEDC, from the Federal Government.

The company formally took over the reins of leadership of the company on December 31, 2021 from the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, and shortly after bared its fangs against staff and electricity consumers under its domain.

Like someone in a hurry to announce its presence and impact, QENL, first fired no fewer than 80 percent of the workforce it inherited from the former managers of the YEDC on the last day of the year. As if that was not enough, it fired a more biting, consequential and far-reaching salvo; this time, jerking the electricity cost by more than 200 percent without any form of consultation with the stakeholders and those who are likely to be affected by the new tariffs.

Consequently, residents of the state capital have protested against what they described as crazy electricity bill by over 200%. The residents also accused the company of flouting the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, order by its refusal to provide pre-paid meters. The Federal Government through the Bureau for Public Enterprises, BPE, sold the company to Quest Electricity Nigeria Limited at a cost of N19 billion.

The former Managing Director of YEDC, Mr. Umara Mustapha, officially handed over YEDC to the new management on December 31, 2021. The BPE said the new company would inject at least N28 billion into the YEDC to improve its operation. However, after taking over operations two weeks ago, Quest Electricity Nigeria Limited has implemented over 200 per cent increase on the electricity tariff to end users of the commodity.

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Many customers expressed disgust over the failure of the company to supply prepaid meters to stop estimated billing which is the conduit the company is using to extort innocent customers. The  NERC, in line with its mandate to protect interests of the end users of electricity, imposed it on all distributing companies to supply their customers with meters and end the era of estimated billing with all its inconveniences about two years ago.

An angry homeowner in Yola, Phineas Taddaus, however, railed: “The distribution companies have made it a duty to flout that order with impunity in the face of the glaring failure of NERC to wield the big stick as they continue with the business-as-usual disposition towards their customers and consumers.”

A cross section of Yola residents who spoke to Arewa Voice described the new tariffs rolled out by Quest as a new method of slavery and called on NERC to overrule it in line with extant rules, pointing out that the new company was overreaching itself by imposing an illegal tariff not backed by law. A private consultant and building engineer based in Yola, Mr. Haruna David, said that no civilised society would allow or accept such unexpected spurious charges.

David said: “The new company, Quest Electricity Nigeria Limited, after inauguration, two weeks ago, has unilaterally increased the electricity tariff by over 200 per cent, unleashing hardship on Adamawa people, and this is unethical and unrealistic in a society that is gasping for breath. I have a two-bedroom apartment at Karewa area, and I have been paying N11, 736 per month for electricity consumption, but I was shocked when these new fellows came to me the other day and slammed me with a crazy bill of N30, 795 as my new electricity charge per month.”

Mr. Muhammed Lawal, a civil servant and resident of Jimeta, said he had been paying N11,764 on a monthly basis but had just been served with a revised bill of N23, 832 per month. “So, can we say in less than 14 days after taking over from government, the company wants to generate N28 billion through milking poor Nigerians?” Lawal asked. He said that they were mobilising people to reject the ‘ungodly’ charges and at the same time calling on the Federal Government to look into the situation for immediate solution.

 A businessman in Yola, Mr. Hassan Musa, said that the increase in the electricity supply bill was done at the wrong time and with bad intention. He alleged that Quest Electricity did not buy YEDC to solve the epileptic power problem, but to extort poor Nigerians, adding: “It is unfortunate that the company has within the space of two weeks of taking over laid off more than 75 percent of the workforce it inherited from YEDC and went ahead to raise tariffs without caring about the feelings of its consumers.”

Other residents of Jimeta Old Market, Shinko, Jambutu in Yola North; Yolde Pate, Wuro Hausa and Hayin Gada in Yola South and Girei LGAs have also raised objections over the price hike and returned their bloated charges to the company in protests. The residents directed the company to remove their cables declaring lack of interest in their power supply.

Reacting, Mr Abdullahi Jimeta, a staff of Quest Electricity Nigeria Limited, Jimeta District, said that government had already sold YEDC to a private company. “Customers monthly bills were increased because the Federal Government sold Yola Electricity Distribution Company to a private company, Quest Electricity Nigeria limited. And you know, no company will want to operate at a loss,” Jimeta insisted.

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