The proposed two months free electricity supply to customers may not be entirely free as the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED) said the Federal Government will pay for the electricity.
ANED, the umbrella body of all the electricity distribution companies, had in an earlier statement noted that it recognises the challenging effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on the economic and daily lives of our customers, adding that in fulfilment of its commitment to the nation, align itself with the efforts of the National Assembly and the Federal Executive to mitigate the hardships that are currently being borne by its customers and other citizens all over the country.
The statement followed a proposal by the House of Representatives’ plan to consider a fresh Stimulus Bill that will allow Nigerians to enjoy electricity supply for two months without any charge.
ANED Executive Director, Research & Advocacy, and Spokesman for all the electricity distribution companies (DisCos), Barr Sunday Oduntan, however, told The Nation that the DisCos support whatever the National Assembly and the Federal Government do that will ameliorate the sufferings of Nigerians during this period but there is a need to make the following clarifications.
He said: “The energy to be supplied for the two months is not free from the DisCos but is being paid for by the Federal Government, in partnership with the National Assembly. As such, the ability for the DisCos to go forward is subject to the stimulus package being passed by the National Assembly and signed into law by Mr. President; and while this palliative seeks to mitigate the economic challenges that Nigerians are being subjected to during this COVID-19 period, it is our hope that we not lose sight of the no-cost reflective tariff challenges that the DisCos continue to suffer under. Regardless, we laud Mr. President, members of his government and the National Assembly for this initiative.”
On when the free electricity supply will start, Oduntan said there is no date yet. We are awaiting directives of the Federal Government.
Meanwhile, the management of Ikeja Electric Plc has said it fully supports the ongoing efforts of the National Assembly, in collaboration with the Federal Government, to consider a proposal on the possibility of providing free electricity for two months as part of COVID-19 palliative for customers.
However, it is important to point out that at the moment, it is only a proposal and is still undergoing stakeholder reviews on its feasibility. It has not been approved by the Government as a stimulus package or palliative.
As such, the ability of the DisCos to implement this proposed palliative is subject to the stimulus package being passed by the National Assembly and signed into law by Mr. President.
We urge all our customers to continue to pay their utility bills as usual, while on our part, we shall continue to serve and put our customers first during this difficult period, the spokesman and Head, Corporate Communications, Felix Ofulue said.
The General Manager, Corporate Communications, and Spokesman Eko Electricity Distribution Company, Mr Godwin Sule Idemudia, corroborated ANED and Ofulue. He said the free electricity supply palliative is only a proposal by the National Assembly, which has not been discussed. Currently, the National Assembly is on recess and may reconvene next week. Outcome of the lawmakers’ deliberations will determine the next step to be taken by the DisCos.
ANED had earlier said: “We commend the Federal Legislators, the Executive arm and The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) for their initiative and we are committed to working with them to ensure more efficient power supply within this difficult period, as the nation battles with the ravages of COVID-19.
“We are also completely aligned with the plans to ensure palliative measures, including free electricity supply to all Nigerians for two months to make life easier, during the lockdown period, details of implementation to come soon. As a key utility player in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI), we hereby reiterate our commitment to improving service delivery to the nation during this pandemic period and thereafter.”