By Adewale Sanyaolu
The Federal Government yesterday, disclosed that it spends over N50 billion monthly to subsidise electricity consumption.
Minister of Power, Engr. Sale Mamman, stated this while receiving members of the Hausa Guild of Actors and Film Producers, otherwise known as Kannywoodin his office in Abuja.
The N50 billion subsidy figure are funds by the Federal Government to augment the shortfall by the Distribution Companies (Discos) who have consistently failed to defray 100 per cent of the cost of bulk electricity supplied to them by the Generating Companies (Gencos).
However, with the minor increase in electricity tariff, the subsidy has now decreased by half, but still constitutes a serious drain on the nation’s economy.
Mamman expressed serious concern over the failure by the Discos to stabilize their operations to meet their financial obligations to other players in the power sector value chain, adding that, it was in response to this unfortunate development that the Federal Government has been compelled to partly subsidize the sector so as not to put the cost of electricity out of the reach of the common man.
The Minister explained that as part of measures to assist ordinary Nigerians over their frustration in getting adequate electricity supply, the Federal Government was forced to categorize electricity supply into various bands between highbrow areas and low income earners to enable everyone cope with the cost of electricity.
“Nigerians must understand that these companies were privatised long before the coming onboard of this administration but the government has no option than to continue managing the sector before a final solution is reached.
Through the Presidential Power Initiative and other interventions, the government is diligently working to resolve all these inherited problems that have continuously frustrated the success of the sector”.
The Minister noted that most of the privatised Discos sold are now being managed as family businesses which has made it difficult for such entities to be professionally managed, regretting that despite this apparent difficulty, the government cannot reverse the privatisation process.
Mamman regretted that while some of these problems still persist, remarkable performance and progress has been achieved by the Federal Government, as the supply of electricity has stabilized at over 5,000 Megawatts from less than 4,000 Megawatts before President Muhammadu Buhari, came to power.
He maintained that Nigerians now enjoy stable power supply from 15 to 24 hours daily, stating that the shortfall or interruptions in supply could be attributed to faulty equipment or supply lines, with a call on consumers to report such development to their distribution offices.
He pointed out that it was the responsibility of the Discos to replace faulty transformers, electricity poles and cables whenever faults are reported, warning the Discos to stop exploiting consumers before faults are resolved.
While commending Nigerians for their efforts in paying electricity bills despite the current economic and social problems facing them, he advised them to minimize electricity consumption by switching off their appliances when they are not at home or when needed in order to reduce pressure on power equipment .
On metering, Mamman explained that although it was the responsibility of the Discos to provide meters, stressing that the Federal Government has stepped-in in view of the public outcry over estimated billings.
He said the Federal Government was committed to supplying over Six million meters free of charge to Nigerians, adding that about one million meters have already been delivered for distribution while the rest is being awaited.
The Minister called on the Discos to expedite the distribution of the free meters to their consumers as a way of lessening their burden.
Earlier, the Head of the Kannywood producers and Actors, Mandawari Ibrahim, said they decided to avail their services to the Ministry of Power so as to adequately enlighten Nigerians on the achievements of the Buhari administration in the Power sector.
He stated that kannywood has vested interest in the success of the Buhari administration because they played a major role in canvassing for his election.
Mandawari noted that despite the huge progress made by this administration, many Nigerians have remained grossly uninformed.