How NERC, DisCos conspire to shortchange Nigerians —Reps

A House of Representatives ad hoc panel, on Friday said the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and electricity distribution companies (Discos) are conniving to shortchange and extort money from Nigerians through excessive billing.

The ad hoc panel, investigating the need to curb excessive electricity charges being levied on consumers by disCos, said majority of the disCos are operated by “fraudsters” who are masters in “cheating” electricity consumers across the country.

Chaired by Honourable Ajibola Famurewa (APC, Osun), the panel, at an investigative hearing in Abuja, said both NERC and disCos were a total failure in ensuring that Nigerians got value for their money concerning electricity consumption.

The chairman of NERC, Professor James Momoh, while responding to questions, told the panel that the commission was doing everything humanly possible to ensure that billing was done in accordance with consumption.

He said NERC had even fined some disCos the sum of N134.1 million due to violations of electricity regulations, and that the money was duly transferred to the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) account.

“All the reports related to the fines are published annually. NERC is taking measures to improve on the services by disCos,” he also said.

The lawmakers took turns to lament NERC’s disposition to the excessive charges, describing what he said as mere stories.

“With all what NERC said, they’ve not addressed the issue of excessive and outrageous billing. Nigerians are suffering, and they’re not addressing that.

“All these things NERC said amount to stories. How are you proffering solutions to the issue of estimated and outrageous billing,” a member of the panel, Raphael Nnanna (APC, Imo), said.

Another member of the panel, Honourable Muazu Lawal (APC, Zamfara) said: “It appears disCos and other stakeholders are not ready for the job before them.

“You just go about billing people the way you like without considering the actual power they consume. This happens everywhere in the country and even here in Abuja.

“From what’s happening, I think DisCos are either operated by fraudsters or they’re just extorting money from Nigerians. If you’re not ready for the job, tell us you’re not ready,” he said.

Honourable Olayonu Tope (APC, Kwara) also noted that “if Nigerians are to cast their votes on the performance of NERC, it will be that the agency is a complete failure. The failure of Nigeria’s economy today is lack of power. NERC is one of the major stakeholders leading Nigeria to failure. Mr NERC, you’re a failure!

Also, Rep Solomon Maren (PDP, Plateau) noted that Nigerians are being shortchanged and that NERC and disCos were doing nothing to address the matter.

“DisCos in Jos were mounting meters on poles, and anything those meters record would be shared among the consumers. People pay for electricity as high as the salaries they earn.”

On her part, Honourable Joan Mrakpor (PDP, Delta) said another way disCos defrauded Nigerians was through the disconnection of electricity to the houses of people that operate based on Pay As You Go, describing such as unacceptable.

In a joint submission, Mr. Azu Obiaya, Chairman, Association of Nigerian DisCos (ANED) said the distribution companies were dismayed by estimated billing, which according to him, robbed the companies of enormous amount of revenue.

Source: Daily Trust