GOING by the recent court judgment, directing the reversal of electricity tariff hike, the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED) has warned that the country may be further thrown into blackouts if the order is to go by.
It said this is because the shortfalls in the power sector is taking its toll on electricity distributors as well as generation companies.
While briefing journalists on Tuesday in Abuja on the court judgment and the current state of the sector, the Executive Director, Sunday Oduntan, said the issue bothering on the sector is mostly deficits and the inability the Nigerian banking system to finance the tariff deficits.
In his explanations, he maintained that Nigerians have a choice between incremental power supply and blackouts saying, “Nigeria has an option between light and darkness, if we choose darkness let’s continue the way we are doing, let’s continue to say that they should reverse the tariff, let’s continue to say that they should not pay for anything, let’s continue to vandalise gas pipelines, let’s continue to vandalise the power structures, if we continue, darkness looms.”
He stressed the need for the Federal Government FG to roll out mechanisms aimed at dealing with the shortfalls, noting that this can not be financed for a long time.
“The issue of the industry is about industry shortfall and the inability of the Nigerian banking system to finance the tariff deficit , that is the shortfall overtime. That happens because the business is not bankable. If your business is being run at a loss, I know that from day one that money will just sink nothing will come back.
“That is why we are saying that the federal government needs to come out with mechanism to deal with the shortfalls which can not be financed for a long term because the shortfalls is adversely impacting the ability of the discos to make capital investments in the system, like metering, like network expansion, equipment rehabilitation,” he said.
“ If you don’t have the appropriate tariff, even if you are doing the whole investment as you are putting all the money there it is going down the drain. We need appropriate tariffn a change of culture where people learn to pay their bills instead of stealing energy. Anytime a Nigerian steals energy, it is affecting their neighbours, the country and the industry.”
Oduntan who noted the huge debts owed to DisCos by Ministries Agencies and parastatals MDAs, Nigerian Military particularly the Army, said unless the country cultivates the habit of paying for electricity consumed, the country may still continue to battle with erratic power supply.
He said;”The government of Nigeria too particularly the Ministries and Agencies MDAs like the Nigerian Military particularly the Army, they need to wake up and begin to have a culture of paying for what the consume.
“If they are paying for the beers they drink, they should be paying for the electricity they consume. If people don’t pay for this product, you can never have light in this country, we should stop deceiving ourselves, In this country, we see subsidies in the petroleum country, which was even abused at a point, to the extent that some people were even collecting billions without bringing any fuel to our sea ports.
“What I am saying is that if this industry has been subsidized, we will not be talking about any tariff increase, we will be talking about what people could afford and fill in the gap but that is the job of NERC not our job. Our job is to ask that the product should be appropriately priced.”