National Assembly wades into NERC/IBEDC crisis

By Energy Worth

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has reiterated the commitment of the green chamber to utilising every necessary legislative tool in solving challenges bedevilling the power sector. He made this known on Wednesday while speaking at an investigative hearing by the House committee on power on the need to save the electricity market environment of the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBDEC).

The Speaker, while declaring the hearing open, emphasized the importance of a working power sector, especially with regards to economic activities and poverty alleviation.

“Let me reiterate the fact that the Electricity Sector occupies a prime position in the economy of the country and the wellbeing of the people. Globally, electricity is the bedrock on which a sustainable economic development is built. It is the singular infrastructure that can produce the most impactful poverty alleviation. This is why the House of Representatives has continued to take necessary legislative actions to facilitate the achievement of stable electricity supply to all parts of the country for both domestic and industrial use. This is part of our avowed Legislative Initiative, and we will continue to pursue the vision with the vigour it deserves.”

Dogara stated that the hearing was convened following a motion alleging unlawful acts against IBEDC by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), and made reference to previous legislative actions on similar issues. This, he said, demonstrates the commitment of the House to streamlining the operations of agencies in the power sector for optimum service delivery.

“I recall that in the month of June, an Ad-Hoc Committee commenced investigation into alleged Constitutional breaches by the Niger Delta Power Holding Company Limited. Similarly, an Ad-Hoc Committee set up to curb excessive estimated electricity charges being levied on consumers by Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) started work. These Legislative actions are products of the determination of the House of Representatives to streamline the operations of the Agencies in the Power Sector to ensure that Nigerians enjoy stable electricity to enhance the quality of our lives.”
He said that the aim of the hearing is not to witch-hunt any party, but to ascertain the factors which led to the suspension of the board of IBEDC.

“The Motion that gave rise to this Investigative Hearing alleged that NERC issued a fiat unilaterally suspending the Board of IBDEC for non-compliance with the repayment terms of the investors’ commitment. In view of the complex and intricate nature of the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry, there is the possibility that the NERC has acted in the interest of the industry, as it claimed. However, this may not be incompliance with spirit and letters of the law. There is also the genuine concern that Regulatory Best Practices may have been violated in the process, and this is capable of scaring away genuine investors. The essence of this investigation is to enable us arrive at the real facts of these issues to ensure that, as Parliament, we discharge our responsibility of protecting all the fundamentals of democracy, one of which is the free market enterprise.

Let me emphasise that this is not a witch-hunt, neither does the Green Chamber hold any predetermined perspectives on this matter. Rather we will be guided by the submissions and deliberations of all stakeholders and by the spirit and letters of the Law. It is our hope that at the end of this exercise, justice would have been served and the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry would have been significantly strengthened.”