Average daily supply of electricity across the country may have dropped to an all time low of 4.5 hours per day, leaving many businesses grounded while households are left without any supply, an indication that total blackout looms.
Latest statistics from Independent Energy Watch Initiative indicate that the Yola Electricity Distribution Company, covering Adamawa, Borno and Taraba states, supplied a paltry 4.5 hours on June 24, while energy sent out was 0.27 mega watts (mw).
This abysmal power supply was followed by Ibadan Disco covering Oyo, Ogun, Osun, and Kwara states with 5.3 hours of daily power supply for the period under review with 0.32mw as energy sent out.
The states were trailed by Eko Electricity Distribution Company covering Lagos South with 6.3 hours of daily power supply and 0.71mw as energy sent out.
The next in line was Kano Disco, covering Kano, Jigawa and Katsina with 7.1 hours and 0.34 as energy sent out.
Ironically, Ikeja Disco with the highest number of industrial customers covering Lagos North was only able to muscle out 8.8 hours of power supply and 0.55mw as energy sent out.
A study by NOIPolls, an Abuja-based research outfit, disclosed that power supply to households in the nation dropped to 30 per cent of installed capacity in the first quarter of this year, from the 37 per cent obtained in last quarter of last year.
The new aggregated power poll results released by NOIPolls for the first quarter of 2017 showed that the lowest power supply to households in Q1 2017 was observed in January at 21 per cent. The drop was attributed to the shortage of gas to the power generating companies and low water levels at the hydro power stations.
For Q1 2017, the monthly average cumulative hours of power supply experienced was recorded as 7.5 hours daily in January, which was the lowest. It went up to 9.8 hours in February, which was recorded as the highest.
The poll’s results also revealed that for Q4 2016, average daily power cumulative supply was 9.6 hours, while in Q1 2017, it dropped to an average of 8.9 hours daily, indicating a 0.7-point decrease.
A cumulative power supply of 8.9 hours per day was assessed to be a far cry from the standard 24 hours power supply, which Nigerian households ought to be experiencing, thus further buttressing the issues inherent in Nigeria’s power sector.
Lamenting the nation’s deteriorating power infrastructure, Mr. Duro Kuteyi, a former chairperson of Lagos State Chapter of Nigeria Association of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI), said he spends an average of N400,000 on diesel every month just to remain in business.
“I still pay my bills despite the erratic power supply, and Ikeja Disco continues to disconnect companies for supplying electricity for less than four hours in a day.”
For his part, Managing Director, Lydin Pure Water, Mojisola Abbas, said, “l spend over N120,000 weekly on diesel to meet the demand of customers. It seems the Discos do not want us to survive.’’
Meanwhile, consumer rights advocacy groups have equally condemned the operators of the various distribution companies for the non-availability of meters to various homes. The groups argued that Nigerian consumers have suffered enough through the action of the companies, which have failed to provide meters even when they get charged outrageously.
They argued that it was time they stopped allocating arbitrary charges to consumers as such actions were tantamount to ripping off consumers.
The President of Consumers Advancement Organisation (CRADO), Mr. Deolu Ogunbanjo, said it was disturbing that government had remained indifferent to the issue of poor power supply by the Discos despite numerous pleas to compel them from extorting Nigerians through outrageous charges.
Ogunbanjo stated that it was strange that a critical mass of household still lack metering system, stating categorically that over three million Nigerians at the moment don’t have meters.
According to him, what has become worrisome is the fact that most distribution companies have hijacked the role of meter manufacturers to the extent of now selling meters to consumers.
Commenting on the amount of money ripped off from consumers as a result of non-metering, Ogunbanjo put the estimated figure to N3 billion monthly.
“When you give consumers crazy billings, it is usually N5,000 or N10,000 of what they have not consumed. Now, if you have three million consumers and they are paying at least N5,000 beyond what they are supposed to pay, the amount, if calculated, runs into billions of naira.”
On her part, the convener of Consumer Advocacy Forum of Nigeria (CAFON), Ms. Sola Salako, said it would be wrong to blame the Discos on the non-availability of prepaid meters because many of them lack the desired motivation.
According to her, the issue of estimating billings had been more financially rewarding to them since they do not have adequate data on the number of consumers on their networks. She said based on this, many consumers have been made to bear the cost of those not captured on their networks.
She heaped the blame on government for failing to ensure that Discos provide meters for all Nigerian consumers, stating that such lackadaisical approach by the government had caused the companies to exploit the consumers.
She said: “Government has failed to provide the needed motivation for Discos to make available meters for consumers even long before the forex crisis started.”