RIGHTSView: PRIVATISATION OF ELECTRICITY LIES

Posted by Emmanuel Onwubiko | 1 October 2014 | 2,931 times

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Since flag independence, Nigerians have known only but one unfortunate fact concerning their political life: lies by the ruling elite.

This cacophony of official lies have become so sophisticated, going by the fact that local officials in Nigeria now connive with some so called Ivy League-educated White elite, to force down our throats certain sugar-coated lies on how to improve social services and make life better for the ordinary citizenry.

So at the topmost echelons of the Bretton Wood finance institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) some fast-speaking propagandists have packaged and delivered to the corridors of political power on the African continent and much of the so-called Third World countries, certain anti-poor policies that they have called privatisation of hitherto government-run social services, For example, electricity power, educational, health and clean water sectors of the economy, which prior to the arrival of the privatisation policy supported by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, were provided on very subsidised rates by the governments of these nations.

In Nigeria, this craze for privatisation gained notoriety with the re-emergence of civilian government in 1999; even as the electricity power sector received its own baptism of fire in the name of reforms around the year 2005, when the National Assembly passed into law the Nigerian Electricity Power Sector Reforms Bill into law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This resulted in the so-called unbundling of the hitherto notoriously inefficient National Electricity Power Authority (NEPA) into six transmission and distribution companies, which were cleverly handed over to some smooth-talking economic parasites with connection to the corridors of power and ever since this so called hand over of these electricity power plants was completed, Nigerians have known nothing but lamentations and regrets going by the emerging facts that the ghosts of criminal inefficiency and corruption, which ruined the erstwhile publicly-owned NEPA have become even more troubling than Nigerians ever imagined.

Nigerian consumers of electricity power have been forced by these greedy new local and international owners of our collective heritage to pay higher bills for nothing but even much more poor services compared with the defunct notorious NEPA. These new owners have also raised the ante in the manufacturing of lies and concocted reasons for this criminal breach of contractual trust, which the consumers have faced since they took over the distribution of electricity power.

From this bag of old tricks, they only recently invented old lies to buttress why electricity power services in most places, even in the nation’s political capital of Abuja, have assumed the worst case scenario. And so we woke up few days back to read in the press that the national electricity grid has lost 190 megawatts (mw), after fire engulfed a 60mva, 330/123kv transformer in Apo transmission substation. This sad tale came after few days that the Minister of Power had glibly told Nigerians that electricity power supply will improve significantly in September, and would reach the proverbial 10,000 megawatts by the first quarter of next year.

The media, quoting the propaganda material sent to them by these new owners, stated that, however, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) said it has made efforts to restore normal electricity supply to affected areas in Abuja metropolis. The ugly situation, as rightly observed by the reporters, has led to a drastic reduction of power supply, from over 4,000mw, last week, to about 3,082mw this week. 

Specifically, TCN, in a statement issued by its Assistant General Manager, Public Affairs, Mr Dave Ifabiyi, said the transmission capability has reduced by 190mw, noting that Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC), which has a maximum supply of 46mw from the affected substation, will soon have its load demand restored. Over 48 hours after this promise was made in the media, consumers in much of Abuja municipal area are yet to see any electricity power services restored.

The company had assured the consumers that  its quick response engineering team have since commenced work to isolate the affected 60mva, 330/123kv transformer and replace cables of the 2x45mva transformers, to restore service through the 2x45mva and 1x100mva power transformers not affected by the fire.

Explaining the cause of the inferno, the statement said it started after an explosive sound caused by direct lightning strike at the 132/33kv switchyard, with smoke engulfing the relay room and cable trenches within the control room.

It said engineers quickly disconnected the substation from the transmission grid to forestall further damage. As a result, it said, parts of Abuja metropolis, including Garki, Asokoro, Lugbe, Karu, Keffi and environs were experiencing power rationing.

It, however, assured that on completion of repair work and cables’ replacement, normal transmission to distribution load centres in Garki, Asokoro, Lugbe, International Airport and Karu business areas would commence.

These cock and bull stories, which were inherited from the dysfunctional NEPA, are no longer convincing. But these rogue elements now running the electricity power plants still have the effrontery to force down our throats these lies only because the people are yet to cry out loud and clear to demand their right, if indeed customers are king as is known in civilised climes. Sadly, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) have done very little to ensure that the rights of consumers are respected. NERC is only interested in taking care of their staff and top management, and cares less about their mandate. This is very sad.

RIGHTSVIEW appears twice a week on Wednesday and Saturdays. The Columnist, popular activist Emmanuel Onwubiko, is a former Federal Commissioner of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission and presently National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA).


Source: News Express

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