6th June, 2018
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara has urged the Ministry of Power to take the oversight function on Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) “seriously.”
Dogara gave the charge at a public hearing on a bill for an Act to amend the Electric Power Reform Act to prohibit and criminalise estimated billing by the DisCos.
Represented by the Deputy Minority Leader of the house, Rep. Chukwuka Oyema (Anambra-PDP), Dogara stressed the need to ensure appropriate billing of electricity consumers.
Also speaking, the Leader of the house and the sponsor of bill, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila (APC-Lagos) said there is nowhere in the world where electricity customers are billed arbitrarily as the case in Nigeria.
The leader said the estimated billing can only be used in situations where the meter of the consumers cannot be accessed by the energy company, adding however that the DisCos have accepted estimated billing as the normal practice by making accurate and exact billing the exception.
Gbajabiamila said just as Nigerians are most united when the Super Eagles are playing the game of soccer, they are equally united against estimated billings.
“Any regulation that allows estimation of bills when the actual consumption can be ascertained is against natural justice and equity and should not stand,’’ Gbajabiamila said.
He said the bill when passed will put an end to the estimated billing by the DisCos stressing that it would bring about a win-win situation for both the consumers and the companies.
“The bill will ensure that prepaid meters are installed in all houses, so long as the customers applied for the meters,’’ he said.
In his remarks, the Minister of Power Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fasola corroborated Gbajabiamila’s claim, saying estimated billing must be stopped.
He said over the years, estimated billing had led to distrust between the consumers and the DisCos.
The minister, however, urged the committee to take into cognizance the capacity of meter producing companies before criminalising estimated billing.
Fasola said estimated billing was adopted as a result of insufficient production and supply of prepaid meters.
The minister also recommended that the bill be adjusted to further empower the National Electricity Regulation Commission (NERC) to carry out far-reaching regulation in the power sector in Nigeria.