Like a recurring decimal, the suppliers of power to Nigeria’s seat of power, Abuja; Kogi, Nasarawa, and Niger States, the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC), like other sector operators in other parts of the country, is dishing out excuses for power failure that has crippled homes and businesses for more than a week in Abuja, and failures elsewhere.
But this is not without an open window for operators to fleece Nigerians by the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC)
AEDC claims it has to do with the drop in power supply in its franchise areas.
In a statement in Abuja on Thursday, said that the company was aware of the drop in power supply across its franchise areas.
Meanwhile, an angry and disappointed Nasarawa State governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, travelled allthe way to Abuja to register the complaints of consumers in Lafia, the State capital on shortage of power and high tarrif.
Recall that acting in concert with the country’s electricity regulator, the NERC, power distributors hiked tarrif, even when supply remains epileptic. There has been no remarkable improvement in power supply to Nigerians despite claims of enhanced generation.
On Thursday, Governor Sule lamented the shortage of power supply in Lafia, and the heavy estimated billing system borne in the state.
His words, “We were thinking that with the Akurba substation and that we have been moved to Band A, we should be getting at least 20 hours daily. I’m a witness because I use the same power, there are some people in Lafia getting somewhere between two to three hours daily,” he said.
“The problem is that because we don’t have meters, we are now getting high rates. People who use to pay anywhere between four or five thousand, now pay twenty thousand. They have the worst power supply after we have the substation. They have nobody to blame than AEDC…
“When the matter came to me first, I told them not to worry, that any time I am in Abuja, I will visit the AEDC. In Nasarawa so far, we have been lucky to have a peaceful state and I will do anything possible to maintain it that way. But when people become agitated and I am their servant, I will take the opportunity to go all the way to ensure that the matter is addressed…
“I want to plead with you on the meter, to see the possibility of people getting meters. That way people will pay what they consume. Which is fair in life. If you do that, the people are willing to pay for the power they consume,” he said.
He told the AEDC management that his administration bought over 200 transformers last year, while also spending another N500m to bring electricity to the area housing the newly constructed federal secretariat that will be commissioned next month by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Recall that last year, the AEDC rolled out what it described as 40 quick-win projects geared towards rehabilitating its network to improve power supply, especially in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
His failed promise also coincided with the empty boast of the Mr Sanusi Garba, Chairman, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), who promised power would improve by July last year.
The Managing Director of AEDC, Mr Adeoye Fadeyibi, in a statement said that the projects range from deloading the overloaded feeders.
According to media reports, other projects embarked upon by the company, he said, include the purchase of 81 new distribution transformers and repair of 78 existing ones.
Fadeyibi said that AEDC was also carrying out major maintenance on its 34 power transformers.
He said that the company is in various stages of discussions with some power developers capable of giving them within a few months, good level of embedded power generation.
According to him, the generation is to boost and complement whatever it gets from the National Grid.
He said the project is being undertaken with the sole objective of quickly improving supply of power to franchise area, especially to Metropolitan FCT.
”We assure you again that our sincere and much desired goal is to provide you with acceptable levels of power always.
“Our collective effort as a management team in the pursuit of this goal is not limited only to these interventions.
“We seek everyday new ways to achieve this objective very quickly and efficiently,” he said.
Fadeyibi said that AEDC was committed to ensuring within weeks to a few months improvement in the power supply situation.
That again was a promise that failed at the close of last year.
”We honestly feel your pains and trauma, and we plead for your continued understanding, while not absolving ourselves from responsibilities.
”We are in concert with other industry partners and stakeholders to address the broader problems of low generation and systems instability.
”We appreciate your patience and understanding as we continue to strive towards meeting your expectations in having world class power supply in the Abuja franchise area,” he said then, about six months ago..
In his own case, Sanusi Garba, Chairman, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), said Nigerians would witness improved power supply from July 1 (2022) following renewed efforts by industry stakeholders.
Garba gave the assurance at an interactive session with newsmen after the Second Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) meeting in Lagos.
This was after the national grid l collapsed six times last year. Many stopped counting the collapses after that time.
The meeting was attended by top officials of NERC, Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Generation Companies as well electricity Distribution Companies.
He said NERC had facilitated a contractual agreement between the Gencos, TCN and the 11 DisCos that would guarantee the generation, transmission and distribution of an average of 5,000MW of electricity daily to customers effective July 1.
According to him, the contract is binding on all the players across the sector’s value chain and stipulates penalties for any party that defaults on the arrangement under the new regime.
Garba said: “Yes, we have had discussions with the gas suppliers within our regulatory space. We have them on board to ensure that once we made the commercial requirements, gas was going to flow.
“Now, for transmission we have heard of figures well in excess of 5,000MW and clearly TCN will be able to deliver that.
“I recall clearly in March last year we had 5,400MW. So, it means it is quite possible based on signed commitments.”
He said all the stakeholders across the value chain had obligations and there would be consequences if they failed to deliver.
“So, in a situation where Gencos are able to deliver 5,000MW but TCN is unable to do so, they’ll pay the penalty to the generation company and so on.
“And whenever the power is available and DisCos do not take the power; then they will pay liquidated damages that will compensate other market participants.
“We might not have 24/7 power supply from July 1 but Nigerians will see the trajectory because the target is to have an average of 5,000MW daily for transmission and distribution,” said Garba.
He also blamed the recent collapse of the national grid on inadequate gas supply, maintenance of some thermal stations as well as vandalism of power infrastructure and gas pipelines.
“The challenges of today are very clear. In the past, it used to be weak infrastructure and so on and so forth. Now we have certain external factors contributing to these events.
“Obviously, it’s not common around the world to see people coming down, pulling down transmission towers for no reason; or blowing up crude oil lines.
“In a number of instances, most of the gas we have today is associated gas and because of that when crude lines are disrupted it also affects the supply of gas to the thermal stations,” he said.
Garba commended the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the interventions in the power sector, adding that country would soon start feeling the impact of the investments positively.
Unfortunately, the electricity regulator and other players couldn’t walk their talk, and were merely blowing hot hair, as had been done in the last 24 years of democratic rule by politicians and power sector managers, who have not improved on what the military left behind, despite the huge billions of dollars dissipated for no tangible results.