Union seeks stoppage of N309b bond to power firms
Workers under the aegis of Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC) have urged the Federal Government to shelve its plans to issue a N309 billion bond to finance the power sector.
The President of the union, Chris Okonkwo, while speaking in Lagos last Friday, asked government to assess the performance of the power firms in the past three years in view of the terms of conditions of the privatisation that the companies had breached.
He warned that the power generation in the country might not be viable in the future if government continued to give the power firms handouts.
According to Okonkwo, the anticipated efficiency in service delivery from private power firms by Nigerians has been met with deceptions and failed promises.
One of such failed promises, according to SSAEAC president, is the provision of prepaid meters to electricity consumers within 18 months which the firms failed to supply, giving high exchange rate as an excuse.
Okonkwo added that the power distribution companies had displayed inefficiency in revenue collection with 30 per cent collection rate as against 60 per cent the sector recorded before the privatisation.
The President of the union said the financial and technical inefficiencies of the power firms were evident in shortfall of funds they report despite enjoying series of intervention from government.
According to Okonkwo, the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria prepared a bail-out of N2013 billion, through the Nigeria Electricity Sector Intervention fund in March 2016 but the shortfall had continued to escalate.
After the assessment, he urged government to revoke the licences of firms which showed underperformance.
He said: “It is time for the government to call them to account. They have failed woefully in the area of revenue collection. If the Gencos cannot plough back the money used in generating power, then power generation cannot be sustained.”
On his part, the General Secretary of the union, Umar Dubagari, in a letter to the House of Representatives on the N309 billion bond, called for the formulation for a proper policy to achieve quality and functional electricity generation in the country.
He said: “Issuance of bonds in this circumstance would amount to not only spoon-feeding the operators in their inefficiency, but also at a great cost to Nigerians as the risk of default would cause the crystallisation of the Federal Government Sovereign Guarantee and lead to national energy crisis in the future.”
“Distribution companies which collected revenue failed to remit in full to other market participants without any disciplinary measure by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission to block the leakage. However, the NERC is not dong much. It sought for bailout from the federal government, year-in year-out in favour of GENCOs and DISCOs and more or less acted as their advocate.”