THE House of Representatives on Wednesday asked the Minister of Power to sanction the Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) for “irresponsibility” and “wickedness” in power distribution.
Lawmakers took turns to recount the experiences of their constituents in the hands of DisCos, who they accused of defrauding Nigerians with impunity.
They said nothing would bring Nigerians as much joy as to hear that the DisCOs have been sanctioned.
They spoke when the Minister of Power, Sale Mamman, appeared before the House Committee on Power to defend the ministry’s 2021 budget.
The committee asked the minister to furnish the House with details of how much the government has benefited from its 40 per cent equity in the privatised companies.
It insisted that DisCos should be made to pay for the electricity transformers donated by communities and community leaders to get power supply.
The committee chairman, Magaji Dau Aliyu, alleged the DisCos are practically cheating Nigerians who are made to pay various sums of money even after donating transformers to them.
Addressing the minister, Aliyu said: “My happiness is that you and I are on the same level: you are in the APC (All Progressives Congress), I am in APC; you are for the President and we are for the President.
“So, please, sanction the DisCos; punish them, please. If you do that, you will be our darling and you will be a darling to Nigerians also. Really, Nigerians are cheated.
“We don’t know what is the best arrangement. Are we better of when we had PHCN (Power Holding Company of Nigeria) than we are now?
“The problem is that you have allowed them to have Bands A, B, C and D. They said people in my village don’t pay for power, so, they will not give us power.
“I have over 30 transformers in my place that are new but we don’t have light, because we are in Band D. They are only looking for Band A and Band B customers.
“So, we are going to make a law to disband this banding of power. Power should be supplied equitably to anybody. This segregation must be stopped”.
Wale Raji (APC, Lagos) described the DisCos as irresponsible.
“We do not even know whether we are better off under this present arrangement or the NEPA or PHCN that we abandoned.
“Transformers will break down and when they (residents) even call on the DisCos to complain about it, some officials even take the transformers away and never return them.
“Then, the communities are forced – they have no option – to buy a new transformer. Not having money to buy it, they resort to their elected representatives who knocked on their doors for votes,” he said.
Ibrahim Olarewaju (APC, Ekiti) said: “They (constituents) almost burnt down my house. And what is my offence? The transformer in the town broke down, so I must buy a transformer for them.
“I had to borrow N5million to buy a brand new transformer when they started protesting again.
“I have been on this transformer issue for one year. Mr Minister, you need to help us because the truth about the matter is that the problems we are facing in the constituency are not a joke. It almost became an inter-quarters riot.”
The committee expressed concerns over the ministry’s failure of to declare accrued revenue from the trillions of naira invested in the power sector over the years by the government.
Mamman said Nigeria’s installed grid power generation capacity has grown from 8,000mw to 13,000mw under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said that the distribution system could evacuate 5,500mw of power having grown from 4,500mw in 2015.
“Under the able leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, the country’s grid power capacity has increased significantly from the time this administration took over in 2015 to date.
“During the period between 2015 to date, the sector has recorded successes and has faced challenges.
“To deliver this administration’s promise of providing stable and affordable power to Nigerians, a way forward was defined and supported by Mr President’s political will,” he said.