Gbajabiamila Condemns Estimated Billing

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, insisted yesterday that estimated bills imposed on electricity consumers in the country by distribution companies remained unacceptable.

He also inaugurated the House ad-hoc Committee on Power Sector Reforms, and charged it with the responsibility of undertaking a holistic review of the power sector in Nigeria, with a view to recommending appropriate legislative action to the House.

“Estimated billing remains a no, no for me and members of the House. However we need to do it, we have to do it,” he said.

Gbajabiamila said setting up the ad-hoc committee became necessary because of the resolve of the House to ensure a comprehensive review of all legislation relating to the power sector.

Noting that he was personally concerned about the myriad of challenges in the power sector, the speaker said:  “Our nation has long struggled with the problem of fixing the power sector in Nigeria and getting it to work in the optimal interest of all our people. We have not succeeded, despite the best efforts of many.

“The consequences of that failure are evident in the many industries that have collapsed across the country. It is also apparent in the abysmally low productivity of existing industries due to the enormous cost of generating their power independently.

“The power sector is so integral to our national economic growth, to national security and even to social development that we cannot ever stop trying to get it right. It is for this reason that the House of Representatives on May 12, 2020, resolved to set up this ad-hoc committee to undertake a holistic review of the power sector in Nigeria and to recommend legislative action to the House of Representatives.’’

He said the ad-hoc committee, chaired by House Leader, Alhassan Ado Doguwa, must take steps to ensure that the House fulfilled its commitment of a comprehensive review of all legislation in the power sector.

He said:  “The importance of this ad-hoc committee’s assignment is perhaps best reflected in the choice of Ado Doguwa, the Majority Leader of the House as its chairman.  It would not be an easy task.

‘’Nation-building rarely is. But it will be a worthwhile effort when at the end of it, we can initiate and complete necessary legislative reforms to remove the regulatory and bureaucratic bottlenecks that continue to mitigate against optimum performance in the sector.”

He expressed confidence in the ability of the committee leadership and the members to deliver on the critical assignment the House had given them. “I assure you of my support and that of the House of Representatives.”

Still, I must ask you to keep three things in mind. First, the complexity of the issues in the power sector are such that your success will depend a great deal on your ability to engage productively with experts and stakeholders across the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry, NESI. Please do not be reluctant in this regard.

“Secondly, be sure to resist any and all attempts to compromise your work or unduly influence the recommendations you make to the House. Finally, remember that success in this assignment may very well be the defining factor of both your legacies as well as the legacy of the 9th House of Representatives,’’ Gbajabiamila said.

In his remarks, chairman of the ad-hoc committee, Doguwa, thanked the speaker for finding him and other members of the panel worthy of carrying out such an important national assignment.

He noted that despite the huge investments made in the power sector over the years, Nigerians hardly feel the impact.

He, however, noted that the committee would do its best to unravel the situation, promising that the members would leave no stone unturned to right the wrongs in the power sector.

On his part, chairman of the House Committee on Power, Magaji Da’u Aliyu, who is a member of the ad-hoc panel, thanked the speaker for giving them the opportunity to look into the complex issue in the power sector and assured that all hands would be on deck in discharging the assignment.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, yesterday issued notices of intention to sanction seven distribution companies over alleged failure to comply with the order capping estimated billing of unmetered customers.

The Order, 197/2020, placed limits on estimated bills that can be issued by DISCOs to unmetered electricity customers of residential (R2) and commercial (C1) buildings.

The electricity regulatory agency, which gave the indication about the enforcement notice through its Twitter handle, @NERCNG, listed the affected DISCOs to include those in Benin, Enugu, Eko, Ikeja, Kano, Kaduna and Port Harcourt.

NERC issued the affected DISCOs 14 days, beginning from June 4, to explain why they should not be penalised over their alleged non-compliance.

The order was to ensure consumers in the two categories, who do not have electricity meters installed for them by the DISCOs, were not disconnected from the electricity supply grid.

Recall that on February 20, 2020, NERC issued Order No/NERC/197/2020 on capping of estimated billings in Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry, NESI.

The order repealed the NERC (Methodology for Estimated Billing) Regulations 2012 and placed a cap on estimated bill to unmetered customers by DISCOs in the NESI effective February 20, 2020.

Culled From Vanguard