President Muhammadu Buhari, has directed that all military formations across Nigeria are yet to be provided meters by electricity distribution companies (Discos) be opened for Discos to install meters in them for ease of electricity revenue recovery, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has disclosed.
Fashola disclosed this in a statement, saying the president gave the order bearing in mind the difficulties of the Discos in metering military formations such as barracks, as well as collecting revenues for electricity sent to them but billed using the estimated methodology.
The Discos, had in the past reported violent abuses of its officials by occupants of military formations who often resort to threats and even beating up of Discos’ staff whenever they tried to collect monies for power supplied, or even make attempts to disconnect the barracks from supply mains.
But in the statement where Fashola asked Nigerians to understand the intricacies of electric power privatisation, especially its gradual but steady approach to producing results, he said the presidential order was a departure from what obtained in the past.
“Let’s be consistent here and let us understand that the decision to privatise is a matter of policy. When policy is made, it takes time to take effect. When it begins to take effect, its impact takes time to spread.
“And that is why we can share here that five years ago nobody could talk about mini-grid, we are talking about it now; five years ago nobody was talking about Meter Asset Provider, we are talking about it today, five years ago who dared to go into the military formation to meter them; the President has directed that all the military formations must be metered,” said Fashola.
He also called for caution on calls for the 2013 power privatisation to be cancelled, stating that the government had operated the sector for 60 years before Nigeria decided to have it run by the private sector.
According to him: “Let’s be careful what we wish for. We wished, many years ago, after 60 years or so of government run power, we wished and decided that private sector should take over this power. That was our decision. No sooner had we decided, five years after, we are now asking government to take it from them. Is that what we really want?”
He reiterated that all the assets that the ministry of power used to control for power distribution have been sold to private operators under the privatisation exercise, adding that the ministry only superintend the sector now but not run it.
“If your telephone is not working, it is not the minister of communication that you go to; let us be very clear. My role is regulatory, oversight and policy. I cannot separate myself from the problem; I am trying to get involved to do what the law allows me to do. So, the people you should be talking to about transformer is not me; the ministry does not supply transformer anymore,” he stated while adding that government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) now pay their electricity bills regularly.
He noted in this regards: “I just signed the letter for this month because our office is the collection warehouse. This wasn’t happening five years ago. So, we are making progress and let no one downplay that.”