By Chris Ochayi
The 11 electricity Distribution Companies, DISCOs, yesterday, absolved themselves of taking any responsibility for the proposed free two month power supply, saying that the Federal Government will pick the bills for all electricity to be supplied within the period. The Executive Director, Research and Advocacy and spokesman of the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors, ANED, the umbrella body of the DISCOs, Sunday Oduntan, who made the clarification in a statement issued in Abuja, said the power to be supplied would not be free and that it will be paid for.
According to him, “There is a need to make the following clarifications. The energy to be supplied for the two months is not free from the Discos but is being paid for by the federal government, in partnership with the National Assembly. “As such, the ability for the Discos to go forward is subject to the stimulus package being passed by the National Assembly and signed into law by Mr. President.” Recall the same DISCOs, through a statement signed by Mr. Sunday Oduntan, said that they completely aligned with the Federal Government and the House Representatives with the plans to ensure palliative measures, including ‘free electricity supply to all Nigerians for two months’, to make life easier, during the lockdown period. “ The companies they recognised the challenging effects of the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic on the economic and daily lives of their customers, and that they fully aligned with the efforts of government to mitigate the hardships by its customers and other citizens all over the country.
They stressed further that they were committed to the initiative to ensure more efficient power supply within this difficult period, as the nation battles with the impact of COVID-19. They said, “We are also completely aligned with the plans to ensure palliative measures, including ‘free electricity supply to all Nigerians for two months’, to make life easier, during the lockdown period. Details of implementation to come soon. “Again, as a key utility player in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI), we hereby reiterate our commitment to improving service delivery to the nation during this pandemic period and thereafter.” But Mr. Oduntan , while making the clarification said, contrary to reports that the power supply for the two months would be given free of charge by them, the Federal Government is backing up the action with some funding. Oduntan, noted that the power to be supplied was not free per say, stressing further that, “There is a need to make the following clarifications. “ “The energy to be supplied for the two months is not free from the DISCOs but is being paid for by the federal government, in partnership with the National Assembly. “As such, the ability for the DISCOs to go forward is subject to the stimulus package being passed by the National Assembly and signed into law by Mr. President. “While this palliative seeks to mitigate the economic challenges that Nigerians are being subjected to during this COVID-19 period, it is our hope that we do not lose sight of the no-cost reflective tariff challenges that the DISCOs continue to suffer under. “Regardless, we laud Mr. President, members of his government and the National Assembly for this initiative.” It would be recalled that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, had during a meeting between the National Assembly leadership and the Minister of Finance recently suggested that the free electricity supply was necessary since it would have the highest impact on the entire strata of the Nigerian society. He said, “We have the figures. I think we should look very seriously into that as part of our package for economic stimulus, because stimulus means something that will stimulate the economy. “When you are stimulating the economy, most of it will come from the informal sector. “When you are saving people their electricity and the fact that they now have stable electricity for two months, you are also saving the monies that would go into the payment of those bills at least for two months.”