The Minister of Power, Housing and Works, Babatunde Raji Fashola, has defended his directives to electricity regulators to ensure electricity distributors are more responsive to customers’ yearnings.
In a statement he personally signed, and sent to news outlets by his aides, Mr Fashola also criticised an official who wrote defending the electricity distributors (DISCOS).
Mr Fashola criticised Sunday Oduntan, who he said wrote defending the DISCOS and presented “himself as Executive Director, Research and Advocacy of the Association of Electricity Distributors (ANED).
“If ANED is not a licensee, who is ANED ? An NGO? If so, they should listen to consumers because Nothing is Going On about poor service,” the minister wrote.
Read the minister’s full statement below
MY DIRECTIVES ON IMPROVED SERVICE DELIVERY IN THE POWER SECTOR WENT TO LEGAL ENTITIES, NOT TO AN INTERLOPER – FASHOLA
Before fiction becomes fact for lack of a response, I feel obliged to respond to SOME, NOT ALL of the allegations credited to one Mr. Sunday Oduntan who presents himself as Executive Director, Research and Advocacy of the Association of Electricity Distributors (ANED), which he made in response to my directives to NERC (the regulator) and BPE/NBET as contracting parties to the DisCos.
Throughout my Press Statement which contained the directives, I referred copiously to the provisions of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (EPSRA) which is the law that regulates the power sector. I referred to DisCos in their capacities as licensees.
Mr. Oduntan should tell members of the public if ANED is a licensee.
He should tell the public whether he is an investor in a DisCo and in which DisCo he has invested and what he invested.
He should tell members of the public that I walked him out of our monthly meeting because he has no capacity to attend and he was not invited.
If ANED is not a licensee, who is ANED ? An NGO? If so, they should listen to consumers because Nothing is Going On about poor service.
The BPE, NBET and NERC, to whom my directives were made, contracted individually with DisCos not as an association.
Any right thinking and well-meaning person knows that power supply has economic consequences and has political relevance.
However to suggest therefore that my directives were political, turns reality on its head; because for the past 20 months, in all my public briefings at monthly meetings with the DisCos, these same issues of service delivery of meters, estimated billings, investment in distribution equipment by DisCos have dominated my remarks.
However, assuming this was not so, do the onset of elections preclude the quest for better service or continued Governance?
If Mr. Oduntan represents the DisCos who, for reasons best known to them, choose not to act to save their investments, that is a matter of choice for them.
I do not recognize him because the law that guides my functions does not recognize him.
His statement that no directives from me will save the power sector from collapse, is consistent with the views of someone who has no skin in the game.
It is perhaps a Freudian revelation of the mindset of those he represents, whoever they may be.
It is a sickening parallel of the Biblical story of the woman who tried to steal a baby before the great King Solomon, and asked them to divide the child.
It is revealing of the mindset of a saboteur not a builder, and he would do very well to acquaint himself and advise his co-travellers about the consequences of sabotaging the economy under our Laws.
While the DisCos reserve the right to choose to affiliate with that view or disown it, I am optimistic that the power sector will prosper in spite of Oduntan-minded personalities.
As for the allegation that figures of power generation and distribution released by me are not true, the taste of the pudding lies with those who eat it.
Electricity consumers know what their experience was in 2015, 2016, 2017 and today.
These figures have been released many months back when we reached those milestones as part of my monthly report and roadmap of incremental power.
It is clearly Oduntan-like, to keep quiet at the time, when there were no directives, and to suddenly wake up many months later to dispute what he did not contest.
It is obvious that the warning lights of compliance necessity are blinking, and those he represents do not like the colour.
Another Oduntan-minded interpretation of my directive is that it is an attempt to demonize the DisCos.
Far from it.
If the DisCos connect with their consumers, they will hear from them first-hand, how traumatized they feel about load shedding, absence of meters and estimated billing.
The GenCos, who are short paid because the DisCos under-remit in spite of high estimated billing to consumers, will tell DisCos how they feel.
My directives seek to rectify these problems because I believe they can be rectified.
If Oduntan truly speaks for the DisCos, which I doubt, he should ignore the messenger (Fashola) and advise those for whom he acts as surrogate, to focus on the message.
The message is simple:
Electricity consumers (which include Fashola), want better service;
NBET wants its money; about N800 billion, so she can pay GenCos;
If DisCos can prove that FGN owes more than what we admit, they should deduct (N72 billion) from N800 billion and pay the remaining N728 billion which they owe NBET;
DisCos should respond to the query from the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing as to why 408 feeders, which have a capacity to deliver 5,756MW of power to consumers only carry 444MW because of faulty lines, bad equipment and load shedding?
Oduntan should interprete this and tell the public whether it is the Ministry who should fix these lines and whether the unused energy will not reach the consumers if the feeders are put to use.
These are part of the subject of my directives to NERC to address deliberate load shedding.
Oduntan should advise his clients to spend the money used in publishing media responses to fix these problems to restore bad lines, and provide transformers and meters to their consumers.
That is what electricity consumers want, Better Service.