The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, on Friday lambasted the Association of Electricity Distributors and condemned the association’s recent reactions to his directives to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, Bureau of Public Enterprises and Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading company.
Fashola, who called the association’s spokesperson an interloper, stressed that his directives went to legal entities and not to an unlicensed organisation, ANED and that the Discos were sabotaging Nigeria’s economy through their actions.
In a 28-page document released in Abuja on Tuesday by ANED, the power distributors argued that most of the statements about Nigeria’s power sector that were made last week Monday by Fashola were false.
They said comments made by the minister on metering, power generation and transmission capacities, stranded electricity, among others, were significantly distorted.
Fashola had briefed journalists on the status of Nigeria’s power sector at the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing in Abuja last week Monday and had raised a lot of lapses on the part of Discos.
The minister, who was displeased by ANED’s reaction to his briefing, issued a statement he personally signed on Friday and said, “Before fiction becomes fact for lack of a response, I feel obliged to respond to some, not all of the allegations credited to one Mr. Sunday Oduntan who presents himself as Executive Director, Research and Advocacy of the Association of Electricity Distributors, which he made in response to my directives to NERC and BPE/NBET as contracting parties to the Discos.
“Throughout my press statement which contained the directives, I referred copiously to the provisions of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act which is the law that regulates the power sector. I referred to Discos in their capacities as licensees. Mr. Oduntan should tell members of the public if ANED is a licensee.”
Fashola went on, “He should tell the public whether he is an investor in a Disco and in which Disco he has invested and what he invested. He should tell members of the public that I walked him out of our monthly meeting because he has no capacity to attend and he was not invited. If ANED is not a licensee, who is ANED? An NGO? If so, they should listen to consumers because nothing is going on about poor service.”
The minister argued that the BPE, NBET and NERC, to whom his directives were made, contracted individually with Discos not as an association, adding that power supply has economic consequences and political relevance.
“However to suggest therefore that my directives were political, turns reality on its head; because for the past 20 months, in all my public briefings at monthly meetings with the Discos, these same issues of service delivery of meters, estimated billings, investment in distribution equipment by Discos have dominated my remarks,” he said.
Fashola wondered that assuming this was not so, would the onset of elections preclude the quest for better service or continued governance?
He said if Oduntan represents the Discos who, for reasons best known to them, choose not to act to save their investments, that would be a matter of choice for them.
He said, “I do not recognise him because the law that guides my functions does not recognise him. His statement that no directives from me will save the power sector from collapse, is consistent with the views of someone who has no skin in the game. It is perhaps a Freudian revelation of the mindset of those he represents, whoever they may be.
“It is a sickening parallel of the Biblical story of the woman who tried to steal a baby before the great King Solomon, and asked them to divide the child. It is revealing of the mindset of a saboteur not a builder, and he would do very well to acquaint himself and advise his co-travellers about the consequences of sabotaging the economy under our Laws.”
The minister stated that while the Discos reserve the right to choose to affiliate with that view or disown it, he was optimistic that the power sector would prosper “in spite of Oduntan-minded personalities.”