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Special Report: Improved Power Supply: Nigerians Lament Lopsided Distribution



Abuja Distribution Company

***The More An Area Pays, The More Electricity They Get – DisCo Official

Oyinkan Somorin and Lukmon Akintola


Electricity is essential to every economy. Its presence encourages production and in the long run, cheaper products, while its absence on the other hand interprets to a hike in cost of goods and services. The latter has however been Nigeria’s lot for decades.

Owners of companies and manufacturers have continued to lament their sole use of electricity generators and how running them is crippling their businesses.

Without these generators, the best they could have hoped for is public electricity, which might come for just a couple of hours in a day, if it ever comes at all.

It is no news that many factories have relocated to neighbouring countries owing to the fact that they cannot keep up production running on generators.

In recent years however, with the continuous injection of huge sums of money into the sector, the privatisation of the power sector, and the introduction of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), there has been a slight improvement in the supply of electricity in some cities and states including Lagos, Ogun and Abuja.

In Lagos and Ogun States, locations such as Ikeja, Arepo, Akute, Ikotun, Egbeda, Dopemu, Iyana-Ipaja, have confirmed an increase in electricity supply.

Other places that have witnessed same include Oshodi, Anthony Village, Ejigbo, Ebute-Metta, Yaba, Oyingbo, Magboro, Mowe, Arepo and Sango-Ota.

In Abuja, areas such as Jabi, Wuse 2, Nyanyan and the Central Business Districts (CBD) have also recorded an increase in supply of electricity.

Speaking with Saturday INDEPENDENT Newspaper, Mrs. Bello Agatha who lives in Ogba, Lagos State stated that electricity has improved in her area. According to her, “Electricity has improved in my area. Last week, I put on my generator just once and it wasn’t even up to an hour before they brought the light. If you look into my freezer, it is filled up with ice block. I can’t even get normal water to drink except from my fridge. Sometimes, I have to switch off my fridge when the water gets too cold.”

Asked about the bill, she says she doesn’t mind, as she is ready to pay for it. “Funny enough, the bill is almost the same as what we pay when there is no light. It is just a bit higher than the normal bill they give us. I don’t mind paying the bill as far as I continue to see the light and they don’t change because Nigeria’s electricity cannot be depended on.”

On his part, Alhaji Musa Hassan who lives in Ayobo claimed that the light has improved and it is way better than what it used to be. His words, “The electricity this past month has been good. Though we are still sharing the light with Ipaja, but it is way better than what it was. Fashola is trying and I give him kudos for his work,” Hassan said.

A survey conducted by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), which focused on the third quarter of 2017, indeed confirms the general conclusion in its report.

The report indicated that complains to electricity distribution companies (DisCos) from customers reduced in the third quarter of that year.

According to the report, DisCos recorded a decline in the number of complaints. The report further said that the 109,048 complaints recorded by DisCos was a slight improvement from the 116,761 complaints received in the second quarter of 2017.

Further, the report indicated an average of 1,185 complaints were made in a day while 76 percent were resolved.

The position of an improved service was further confirmed by Usman Gur Mohammed, the Managing Director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), when he x-rayed his achievement in the past one-year of his appointment.

According to him, “the first is about achieving frequency control. Since June 2017, we have achieved frequency control of 49.5 Hertz (Hz) and 50.5Hz. This has not been achieved in the history of Nigeria; in the last 20 years.”

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, also confirmed the improvement in power supply when he said, “the improved power supply experienced was due to government’s conscious efforts to diagnose and proffer solutions to problems in the power sector”


Babatunde Raji-Fashola, Minister of Power Work and Housing

“Within a few months after President Buhari’s assumption of office, power improved and we all acknowledged,” he said. Fashola ascribed the increase in power supply to the rains and regular gas supply, which allowed the thermal plants to produce power.

The minister’s position on an increase in electricity supply has however been contested by those who insist that the DisCos can do better with their distribution of electricity, as they are yet to enjoy the improved electricity supply being talked about.

Residents of Ire-Akari, Ilasamaja, Bada, Igando, some parts of Agege Central, Badagry, Ifako Ijaiye, Ikosi Ketu, Maza Maza and Alakija, all in Lagos State, have lamented the poor supply of electricity in their areas. According to them, they hardly get electricity.

The Secretary, Ogunlana Community Development Area (CDA), Mr Eniola Taiwo, said the community was badly hit by irregular power supply.

“Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC) is punishing us in Ogunlana area; while we see electricity supply in other neighbouring communities, we are always in darkness.

“We have met their staff and promised to pay our monthly bills, but what are we paying for? Darkness?” He said. He said power supply had not improved in their area.

The President, Amuwo-Odofin New Town Landlords and Tenants, Mile 2, Chief Ade-Owas Owabumuwa, however, said electricity supply in the area had improved after demolition of illegal structures in the area by Lagos State Government.

“Since demolition of structures inside Jakande Estate in Amuwo-Odofin, our supply has become better. Ikeja Electric, however, promised to bring prepaid meters, but we are yet to see any installation in our community,” he said.

A resident of Lekki Phase 1, Mr Philip Okoro, also said that electricity supply in his area had improved considerably. Mission constraints on the part of Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), was affecting distribution of energy to consumers.

“The major problem is with Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN); most of their equipment are decayed, and because of lack of funds and neglect, this generated power does not get to consumers.

“At present, Ayobo/Ipaja transmission service has had transmission constraint for the past three years, so consumers in Abeokuta and its environs cannot get full power generated because of this mess.

“From Ibadan to Sagamu, there is a serious transmission constraint that is affecting power supply by DisCos,” he said.

Bisi Ayilara, who recently moved into a self-contained apartment in Karimu, a suburb in Agege, Lagos State, says the power within the area might not be regular, but they have power supply when it does come.

However, the charge is the problem. Ayilara explained that the first electricity bills she paid when she moved into the house was N10, 000 and it was meant for a month’s consumption.

According to her, complaints to her marketer didn’t yield any positive result, as her second bill went from N10,000 to N12,000.

Efforts by the woman to understand what was happening only worsened the situation, as the third month saw her having to pay N35,000 for a month.

Eventually, she went to the nearest office to find out what was happening, but she was advised to settle the bill before anything could be resolved.

Ayilara explained to Saturday INDEPENDENT Newspaper that being a Civil Servant, it was not easy for her to raise the money and now her bill has increased to N120,000.

To avert unnecessary embarrassment, the woman revealed that she had to tell the officials of the Ikeja Distribution Company (IKEDC), to disconnect her apartment to avoid being embarrassed every month.

Shockingly, having been disconnected, Ayilara still got another bill of N15,000 the following month.

“I am surprised that despite having been disconnected, I am still receiving bills. How can that be possible? I was surprised when I came back from work and I was given a bill, I was charged N15,000 despite not being connected. I have been disconnected since last month, so where did the consumption come from? This shows that the people in the power system don’t know what they are doing and they are just giving out bills anyhow they like,” she said.

Ayilara’s situation is indeed a confirmation that the DisCos and its officials are not on top of their game. However, there are many people with the same experience, as Ayilara.

Mr. James Bello who resides in Isolo said that he has hardly ever had the fortune of seeing electricity when he comes home from work in the evenings.

“For more than two months, I have not seen light in my house when I come home in the evenings. I don’t think I have seen electricity, not to talk of making use of it. I have asked around if there is a problem, but the people I asked told me they have no knowledge of what is happening. So I am wondering why the blackout all the time. If you come to Isolo in the night you will understand what I am talking about, Bello said while speaking with Saturday INDEPENDENT Newspaper.”

Moses Olaokun, a staff of African Independent Television (AIT), tells a story of how the station operates solely on its generators, saying that electricity supply is also bad in Alagbado.

Adding his voice to the discussion, Kenneth Obi said the light given to them is nothing to write home about, as it cannot be used because it is low and cannot carry any electronics or equipment. Though he said some areas have high voltage, he doesn’t know why the power coming to his house is low.

His words: “Will you call what they bring light? That is if it is even there for you to see with. In this area, the power is very bad. In my house, I have low current, but the house behind me has high current. I don’t know what to do. I wish I had another line, but that is a crime in this area,” he said.

Their position is buttressed by a report by the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI), which says that Nigeria’s electricity generation capacity dropped from the 5,222.3 megawatts (MW) attained earlier this year to 2,329.9 MW on Sunday, May 6.

Basically, the country lost about 3,710.8MW due to gas, line and frequency constraints, which is the equivalent of N1.870billion, according to the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI).

Data from the power generation fact sheet of the Presidential Task Force on power also showed that the perennial low electricity supply in Nigeria got worse in the first quarter of 2018 as cumulative power supply reduced to 114,556 megawatts, (MW) in the first quarter of 2018, as against 144,054.92MW recorded in the last quarter of 2017.

This perhaps explains why in 2017, Nigeria was ranked as the second worst nation in power supply by ‘The Spectator Index’, as power dropped to 3,851 megawatts, (MW).

Having x-rayed data of the world’s worst electricity supply in 2017, a report released by @spectatorindex twitter handle, covering 137 countries ranked Yemen as the worst electricity supply nations in 2017, followed by Nigeria, Haiti, Lebanon, and Malawi.

All of these might just be part of the reasons why there have been continuous complaints about the supply of electricity.

Explaining the logic behind the sharing of electricity, a business manager at Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) who pleaded anonymity said, “Unlike before when the government just supplied light as they wished, things are quite different now. These companies buy the light and sell to end-users. If they don’t manage their business well, they will run at a loss. So, bearing this in mind, they simply supply light to places where they know they will make their money back. It is an investment. They invest in the light hoping that end users will pay them and the circle continues. We must understand that the sector has been privatised,” he explained.

What then could be negating all of the positive effort being put in place by the government to ensure increase in productivity; could it be the Electricity Generating Companies, (GENCOs), having been accused by TCN of rubbishing the Federal Government and stakeholders’ efforts at ensuring stable electricity across the country by falsifying their capacity declarations for financial claims?

Mrs. Joy Ogaji, Executive Secretary of Association of Power Generation Companies (APGC) countered the statement by TCN, maintaining that it was false.

Ogaji described TCN’s allegation as malicious, baseless and an exhibition of ignorance of the electricity market proceedings, noting that it was important to state for clarity sake, that GENCOs were not currently paid on capacity declaration but only on delivered capacity.

Vandalisation of properties, huge debts and insecurity have however been identified, as some of the problems frustrating the supply of electricity by GENCOs.

Explaining the new intricacies of power supply and billing system, Adeola Adeojo said, unlike before when houses are given random bills based on estimations, thing have changed. According to him, “If a distribution company supplies a neighbourhood electricity, let’s say 400 megawatts in a month, the business manager covering the area would share the cost among the properties in the location. If the investment is recovered, then the next month, they get to have electricity.

“If the money invested is not recovered, they can be rest assured that they will get less power the next month. Things have changed from before; there are equipment that can tell you the specific consumption of a particular area. For instance, if area 1 uses 500 megawatts in a month, you can’t say because you want to make returns on your investment you will now share their cost with area c, it is not done that way, area 1 has to pay for their consumption themselves. Now, we sell what we buy, it’s that simple.”

Adeojo went further to explain to Saturday INDEPENDENT Newspaper that there are even special packages, as distribution companies approach corporate organisations that they know need the electricity for their production and strike a deal with them. In such a way, areas deemed commercial would enjoy more electricity, as long as the companies fulfil their own part of the deal and always pay what has been billed them.

Asked if there would ever come a day when there would be regular supply of electricity, he answered thus “What I can tell you is that with the plan to meter all the houses in Nigeria, there will be distribution of electricity based on generation. If the distribution company finds out that an area consumes low quantity, it is that quantity that will be given to them, while high volume consumers will be given more supply. Unlike before when the consumption couldn’t be monitored, now everything is possible in terms of consumption and monitoring.”

On the mode of billing he said: “It depends on the area. Some areas pay more than the other. Some areas can cover the target while some don’t. So the area covering the targets get more than the ones not covering it at all.”

Regarding the fact that some locations get more attention that the others, he said, “as for those who have power problems, there are some areas that have the habit of quickly reporting problems to our office, those will get prompt attention because they have alerted us. However, there are places where they say it is the responsibility of the DisCos to know when a particular place doesn’t have power; such places might suffer because we don’t always know everything. For instance, when a wire or a poll is down, how would those in authority know about this without the assistance of people in the community? Some just expect the DisCos to know everything, which is not possible.”

While there might be a noticeable change in the supply of electricity in some areas, it is obvious that regular supply is yet to saturate the country.

Bearing in mind a statement credited to Sunday Oduntan, Chairman Association of  Electricity Distributors Company (ANED), that Nigeria may not have stable power supply in the next five years except the challenges confronting the sector were addressed, it is safe to conclude that it is not yet a done deal as far as electricity supply is concerned in Nigeria.


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