Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, on Monday accused power generating companies in the country of planning to disrupt energy supply to sabotage government’s efforts to revamp the economy through improved electrification of the country.
He said he was aware of the clandestine meetings and nocturnal moves by some of the operators to disrupt power supply for political capital.
He spoke at the 25th Monthly Meeting with operators in the power sector hosted by Ibom Power at the Ibom Hall, IBB Way, Uyo, Akwa Ibom.
Fashola said the government would not be cowed by the antics of the companies as it remained focused to the delivery of dividends of democracy to Nigerians.
His reaction was sequel to the suit filed by the embattled companies last week wherein they accused the Federal Government of discriminatory treatment with intent to harm their business interests.
The GenCos, in their suit, also accused the government of conferring preferential treatment on Azura Power West Africa Limited and Accugas Limited to the detriment of the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry and the power sector as a whole.
But Fashola said he was neither disoriented nor afraid of going to the law court over alleged preferential treatment offered two power generating companies.
Reiterating that the embattled power generating companies have right to go to court for redress, Fashola said the GenCos should consider court of public opinion which would also rattle their conscience for the ills done to Nigerian electricity consumers.
He said, “Lately, I have read reports that some Generation Companies (GenCos) (not Ibom Power) have gone to court, filing claims against the government. That is their right and their prerogative. It is better than self-help, and it is consistent with the rule of law, which underpins our democracy,” he said.
“While they seek refuge in a court of law, they must be ready to face scrutiny in the court of public opinion. The court of public opinion is a court of conscience and morality. In the court of public opinion, they must be ready to tell the citizens how they felt when other groups went to court to stop the implementation of tariffs approved by NERC in 2016.
“They must explain to this public court whether they went to court before government approved a N701 billion payment assurance guarantee to pay their monthly power bills. They must disclose to this court that they owed debts, from the pre-Buhari era, because their income had reduced to less than 50 percent.
“They must disclose to this court that they now receive about 80 percent income, and that this government is now paying them revenues collected from international customers from the Republics of Benin, Niger and Togo, in dollars, as against the naira payment they used to receive.”
He also said that in both courts, the power generating companies must disclose how they felt when some DisCos went to court to stop the enforcement of Provision of Promissory Notes, which was a condition that stopped them access to the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) low interest loans.
He further said the power generating companies must tell the court of public opinion that the reason for going to court is because government is making 100 percent payment to a new GenCo who has a different contract with a Partial Risk Guarantee, which they do not have.
According to him, the GenCos must also disclose to both courts that they held a meeting with government and tabled their demands, which government promised to look into one week before they went to court.
“They must, in good conscience, tell the two courts whether one week was enough time, to go to court and whether this action at the time when the sector is making progress does not suggest an intention to blackmail government and hold the citizens hostage.”
Speaking, Akwa Ibom State governor, Udom Emmanuel, commended the minister for his drive and efforts in solving the power problem in the country, stating that if the effort is sustained, the country is close to solving its power problems.
He said his administration was working towards the provision of digitalized meters in the state, adding that by 2019 every household in the state would be using a digitalized meter.
According to him, the metering company in Akwa Ibom State would solve the four million meter need of the country and implored the Federal Government to take advantage of the metering company existing in the state.
He noted that the state was currently waging a serious war against the vandalism of power installation.
He said, “The major cardinal point when we did our five-point agenda that anchored on industrialisation is also the drive that we are doing on electricity generation and distribution. I recently inaugurated a committee that will anchor us into in what we call a power hall by 2019 where every single household must have a digital meter.”
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