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BusinessDay 10 Apr 2018

4 BUSINESS DAY C002D5556

4 BUSINESS DAY C002D5556 Tuesday 10 April 2018 NEWS Direct electricity complaints to DisCos, Fashola tells Nigerians ISAAC ANYAOGU Nigerians undergoing harrowing experiences in the hands of electricity distribution companies (DisCos) who are directing their grievances to the minister on account of the incompetence of the regulator, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), may no longer get a listening ear. Babatunde Fashola, minister of Power, Works and Housing in remarks yesterday at the 26th monthly power sector operators meeting which held in Ohiya Transmission substation, Umuahia, the Abia state capital, confirmed that the ministry is getting many complaints from different parts of the country. “They should appropriately go to the DisCos and the private investors who own them.Government has handed over these assets as a business and no longer collects revenue for power from consumers since the sale of PHCN in 2013. Those who bought the DisCos and bill consumers must rise up to the responsibility of resolving consumer complaints,” Fashola said. However, it is not difficult to see how customers are reluctant to send their complaints to NERC the sector regulator. On its website, it lists a three-step process to have complaints addressed. First take it up with the DisCo in charge of the franchise area, then fill a form and forward to NERC consumer forum, then it can render a decision. But there is no indication regarding how quickly these complaints can be resolved. The clearest evidence of the futility of this process is seen in the crowds of dissatisfied electricity consumers milling the halls of DisCos in their different franchise areas. Last week, our correspondent visited a customer care centre of Ikeja Electric on Ikorodu Road and found over two dozen complainants angry about the quality of the service. On social media sites, Nigerians reel out their frustration with the process that seemed rigged in favour of DisCos who are allowed to play footsie with their consumers money and electricity supply. Meanwhile, NERC on its website lists consumer rights to include that all new electricity connections must be done strictly based on metering before connection. That is, no new customer should be connected by a DisCo without a meter first being installed at the premises; all customers have a right to electricity supply in a safe and reliable manner. It further said that all customers have a right to a properly installed and functional meter, all customers have a right to properly informed and educated on the electricity service, all customers have a right to transparent electricity billing. “All Un-metered customers should be issued with electricity bills strictly based on NERC’s estimated billing methodology, it is the customer’s right to be notified in writing ahead of disconnection of electricity service by the DisCo serving the customer in line with NERC’s guidelines and all customers have a right to refund when over billed,” NERC says. For millions of electricity users, this sounds like a pipedream. The Consumer Protection Council, at different forums have confirmed that complaints from the electricity sector tops the key issues consumers are angry about in Nigeria. At a recent public interactive forum with NERC on March 24, Babatunde Irukere, director generation of CPC said “In other countries, you cannot even disconnect people anyhow, even when they owe. People in Nigeria are the same, and must be treated fairly.’ “And when people do business with you, and pay money to you reluctantly, it is social exploitation. It is because they have no choice. And that is mistreatment,” said Irukere. Fashola urged the DisCos to improve service and ramp up collections but it is clear emphasis for the DisCos is placed on the latter. “We have various payment options to make paying your bills easy and convenient. With options like internet/mobile banking, http:// ie-payments.com/ , http://quickteller.com , the *565* USSD code, self-service POS points, etc. you can pay your bill anywhere, anytime,” Ikeja electric said on their social media post. But customers do not have the same varied options to have their complaints resolved. Why Buhari dares Obasanjo, IBB, others to... Continued from page 1 bangida and indirectly, Danjuma to perish the thought of running for a second term in office following what they perceived as the failure of his administration to revamp the economy, improve the living conditions of the people and also stop the genocide and killings by Fulani pastoralists across Nigeria’s north-central states of Benue, Taraba, Plateau and Kogi states. What is driving PMB to run again? Despite the heavy criticisms that has trailed the president and his administration’s handling of the economy, jobs and security of late, the president has enjoyed tremendous support from his party and state governors under his party, who are desperate to ride on the back of his popularity and cult-like followership especially in the northern part of the country, to get re-elected for a second term. Of late, some of these governors, especially those of Kogi, Kano, Plateau, Niger, Yobe, Kaduna, and Adamawa states have been making comments to suggest they will compel the president to run for a second term whether he wants to or not. On one of their visits to the president, the governors were reported to have said “We are politicians and those of us that you see here want the President to contest for a second term of office. So, everything is about 2019; there is no hiding that. We have no apologies for that. “We believe in the President, we want him to keep running the country in the right direction. So, people can speculate about 2019; we have no apologies,” governor el Rufai spoke on behalf of the governors. Besides, as former president Obasanjo seems to suggest in his open later of January 2018, many of the president’s ‘nepotic’ court who have gained tremendous power and influence due to the president’s passive and deliberative style of governance, have walled him off from majority of Nigerians and are reinforcing the message of the governors that he is the only one suited to run the country. What is more, some analysts have pointed out that the attempt by Obasanjo, Babangida and Danjuma to force Buhari to stand down may have helped the president make up his mind to contest the elections. “What I do know is that if you want a Fulani man to do something for sure, tell him not to. So the...former army generals should probably think of another way,” says Rafiq Raji, Chief Economist at Macroafricaintel Investment LLC, an Africa-focused macro research & investment consultancy based in Lagos. Jets off to the UK Just immediately after announcing his decision to run again, President Buhari left for the United Kingdom (UK) ostensibly to attend a meeting of Commonwealth Heads of States and Government, coming up from 18 to 20th of April, 2018. However, his office did not give a date of his return fuelling speculation that he may just be using the Commonwealth leaders meeting as excuse to go on his customary health vacation to treat his mysterious illness. At the NEC meeting which he attended ahead of his departure for a one-week official visit in UK, the President also proposed suspension of provision of Article 30 Section 1 and Subsection 3 of All Progressive Congress (APC) constitution which requires any serving officer desirous of seeking re-election to resign from office 30 days before the election. The President said the waivers had become necessary because it is practically impossible for the present serving officers to meet this condition. The President said he believed that the current executives should be free to run for elective position in the party if they so wish. “Considering the provision of Article 30 Section 1 and Subsection 3 of our party constitution which requires any serving officer desirous seeking re-election to resign from office 30 days before the election, I’m not sure of the practicality of the present serving officers’ ability to meet this condition” “Accordingly, the party may L-R: Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; John Odigie-Oyegun, chairman APC, with President Muhammadu Buhari, during APC NEC meeting in Abuja, yesterday. Pic by Tunde Adeniyi consider granting waivers to party executives at all levels so that they are not disenfranchised in participating in the elections provided this does not violate our rights or our rules.” “Necessary waivers should also be extended to executives at the ward level whose tenures may have elapsed and indeed to anyone knocking on our doors from other parties,” he stated. Buhari said his intention to seek re-election in 2019, was in response to demands by Nigerians. A statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, confirming the development said Buhari made the declaration at a closed-door meeting of the Council. “The President said he was responding to the clamour by Nigerians to re-contest in 2019, adding that he wanted to give NEC the honour of notifying them first,” Shehu said. Declaration portends danger to Nigeria – Junaid Muhammad Meanwhile, Buhari’s intention to seek re-election for the 2019 presidential election has elicited mixed reaction from politicians, political parties and public affairs analysts. Reacting to the President’s declaration, Second Republic lawmaker, Junaid Muhammad told BusinessDay on Monday that Nigerians have nothing to cheer with the president’s re-election bid adding that it probably portends danger to the country. “I don’t know if Nigerians have a say in it. If Nigerians have a say in it there would have been no such declaration. Nigerians are going to be bystanders in the sense that in spite of all the urges not to run, Buhari will probably rig the election and unleash mayhem and catastrophe the like of which Nigerians have never seen,” Muhammad said. “The government has the capacity to rig the election and they are shameless enough to do that. I find myself unable to justify under any circumstances the reasons for the President to want to run for a second term because he has failed in everything he said he was going to do. He has said several times that he will not go beyond one term, now he has set that aside and has decided to go for power no matter the consequences for the country. That is not my idea of a statesman; Buhari has pathological lust for power. “I don’t believe that Nigeria will see peace and of course Nigeria has never seen good governance under Buhari and the same pattern will continue unfortunately. Buhari said he was going to bring security and control the Boko Haram he has failed in that. He said he was going to fight corruption he has failed in that. He said he was going to bring the militants of the Niger Delta under control he has failed in doing that. He promised to better the economy he has failed woefully on that. The best thing is for him to leave so that Nigerians can have their county back,” he said. Also contributing, the National Chairman of the National Unity Party (NUP), Perry Opara, in his reaction told BusinessDay that President Buhari’s bid to seek reelection is good for democracy, Continues on page 34

Tuesday 10 April 2018 C002D5556 BUSINESS DAY 5

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