By Yemi Adebisi
I had thought complaints about the ‘crazy bills’ by electricity distribution companies in the country were limited to the households and factories until that early morning when the Imam of the Mosque opposite my house, Alhaji Ola Sheu made the Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company (IKEDC) the subject of his sermon.
Complaining about how the company milks its customers, he lamented that “the property owners are not punishing their tenants but the tenants are being punished through crazy estimated billings by Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company that gives them more than #50,000 crazy estimated billings on monthly basis but government couldn’t fight for the poor masses who are the victims .”
That the Federal Government headed by President Muhammadu Buhari is not doing anything about this is unfortunate. My first encounter with President Buhari was in 2001 at Presidential Lodge in Birni Kebbi, in Kebbi State, where I was lodged at the invitation of the then Governor, Senator Adamu Aliero following a story I did for my organization, Tell Communications on the controversy over the limousines the governor purchased for the first class emirs in the State.
Coincidentally, General Buhari (rtd.) was also staying at the lodge at that time. We got acquainted and I was fascinated by his personality. During the 2015 Presidential Elections, I was an active campaigner for him, wooing my family members, friends and all those I can influence voted for him to become the President of Nigeria. And the General was sworn in in May 2015 as the President of Nigeria.
Then, I thought Buhari was the messiah Nigeria needed but since his assumption of the office six years ago, his style of administration has proven me wrong. I spent my resources: time and money in 2015, to get him elected because of my strong belief that as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he would turn Nigeria around for good. But events have proved this to be otherwise.
Our president has proven that he does not have the capacity to rule a country like Nigeria. All his promises in 2015 to effect a huge change into the Nigerian polity have turned out to be far-fetched. His promises of fighting corruption, beefing up security, improving employment figures are all gone into the winds without any tangible achievement in any area.
The most annoying of these failures is in the area of electricity generation and distribution to Nigerians. The Distribution Companies (DisCos) are just milking the people out of their little resources. Each month, the DisCos keep on increasing the estimated electricity bills to their customers without justification. In fact, under President Buhari’s watch, electricity bills are now more than house rents in Nigeria.
The DisCos have refused to give out prepaid meters and the government, with its regulator, National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) is not doing anything about this abnormality. It is so obvious the DisCos have a way of settling the NERC and ministry officials to look the other way while they continue the milking of helpless Nigerians.
Every day, the DisCos come up with their laws and policies on how to deal with their customers. Recently, an official of the Ikeja Distribution Company (IKDC) told me point-blank that I was supposed to be paying higher electricity bills because I live in a big house: a house I don’t use any air conditioner, water heater, electric cooker or any high voltage consuming electrical appliances. I guess this was because I have paid the company’s high crazy electricity bills for years and to worsen the situation, IKDC increased my monthly estimated electricity bill by 100% last month based on assumptions that my house is big.
On the other hand, all efforts to get a pre-paid meter are abortive as the IKDC’s officials have made the process so cumbersome and frustrating. In this zone, the so-called Buhari one million meters are nowhere to be found.
By God’s grace, very soon I will soon lead a crusade on operation stop estimated billings by DisCos in Nigeria if President Buhari refuses to do something about it
I am convinced that if President Buhari can stop the DisCos from continuing with their arbitrary estimated billings, many Nigerians would wholeheartedly be happy with him, even if that is the only achievement for his eight years rule.
From all facts and happenings, the DisCos can’t execute the electricity distribution contracts with the Nigerian nation but because of the country we are in where everything goes, the Federal Government is allowing them to smile at the banks at the expense of the masses.
I am sure if heaven is real, none of the members of the boards of all the DisCos in Nigeria and their top executives will make it.
The electricity consumers in Nigeria still maintain the DisCos’ equipment for them whenever there are faulty because if they don’t, they are bound to be in darkness for months, except they are ready to grease the palms of the DisCos’ officials to do the repairs.
Another annoying aspect of the electricity contracts with the DisCos especially, IKDC is NERC support for premium customers focus of the DisCos where they give the premium customers 24 hours Electricity supply daily at the expense of the poor majority they place on estimated billings that couldn’t afford prepaid meters but who do not have options than to pay the crazy estimated bills on monthly basis.
Like my own area, for quite some time now, the supply is getting worse but the crazy estimated billings keep on increasing.
I’m appealing to Speaker house of representatives Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila to see to the end the criminalisation of estimated billings in the country. I am sure if he can achieve this, the prayers of the poor masses suffering in silence due to estimated billings will always make ways for him.
I know the Buhari administration is a failure but if this administration can stop estimated electricity tariff billings many Nigerians would be happy and pray for him to have a good rest after he leaves office in 2023.
-Yemi Adebisi is a publisher and media consultant