The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, has appealed to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) for an improvement in the supply of electricity to the Federal Capital City.
Malam Bello who made this plea when he received the NERC Chairman, Professor James Momoh during a courtesy visit to his office, yesterday, October 30, 2018, said electricity supply is a major challenge in FCT because of the many roads and streets requiring streets lights and the poor allocation of power from the suppliers. He suggested that one way out of this challenge could be the dedication of mini grids to power strategic roads and facilities. He added that it is critical that FCT has first class power supply system.
While welcoming his guests, the Minister stressed that there has been significant progress in power generation and supply, nationwide, since the onset of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration. “No doubt about it, there is substantial improvement in power, which is a reflection of government policy, government direction and the drive in of the Discos, Gencos, Transcos and you the regulator”.
According to Malam Bello, FCT records over 9 percent population growth rate annually and there is need to match infrastructure development with growth, regretting that funding is a challenge. The FCT Minister recalled that before the unbundling and subsequent privatization of power industry, FCT had made substantial investment in power infrastructure. This he noted necessitated discussions on how investments done in the past could be refunded.
The Minister explained that states that gave asset to Discos are also customers and should be on the board of NERC so that they are part of decision making. He also said Discos are not doing much in terms of backroom support and maintenance and protection of these assets.
“There is need for Discos to invest in maintenance and fault resolutions. In the past in every neighbourhood there was a small fault office and there was always a pickup van with a ladder at the back such that even if it is 12 midnight and there is a fault, you will always get somebody to look at it. Now the case is different”, he said.
He consented to the request by Prof Momoh and the diaspora scientists to partner with FCTA to build a research institute, and offered to make space available for that purpose inside the Abuja University of Technology, Abaji.
Earlier, the Chairman had proposed providing support in implementing demand side management across FCTA facilities in order to reduce electricity bills as well as space to establish an energy research institute to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in the FCT.
While listing challenges faced by NERC in discharging its mandate, which include customers not enjoying reliable service with nearly 50 per cent not having metres and the prevalent estimated billing system, Prof. Momoh said the commission would not relent in its efforts to ensure that every home is supplied with affordable, accessible and reliable power.
“There are challenges in doing this. We know that. Also a sizeable part of the country’s population is not connected. As you go from Abuja to the villages you find a lot of people in total darkness. They are not connected to the grid. However the grid is passing by and nobody is connected. People are living in darkness when they have energised network passing through the villages. Customers are billed wrongly. Licensees are complaining too. ‘I produced for 10 naira and I am being asked to collect two naira’. There is also inadequate revenue to efficiently operate and run the power sector, poor governance in terms of ownership”, he said.