Power distribution companies have said that members of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria owe them a debt of about N30bn as unpaid electricity bills.
According to the Discos, the debt is among the many other liquidity challenges that have affected the sector negatively particularly on the distribution arm of the industry.
They noted that the debt grew after a court injunction mandated the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission not to carry out the Multi Year Tariff Order in 2015, which would have led to an upward review of electricity tariffs.
Speaking on behalf of the power distributors at the March 2018 Power Dialogue organised by Nextier Power in Abuja on Wednesday night, the Chief Commercial Officer, Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company, Deolu Ijose, said members of MAN owed the Discos N30bn.
He stated, “There are some things that probably have gone beyond the control of the Discos. Let me tell you, I attended a meeting yesterday with some members of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, and it will interest you to know that MAN went to court when the 2015 MYTO 2.0 came in. And right now, MAN is owing the Discos an average of about N30bn.
“This amount is because of the court injunction that was slammed on the MYTO 2015 that people should continue to pay the old rate. So, the differential is about N30bn and those are funds that should be available, which probably the value chain should have benefitted from.”
On July 13, 2016, The PUNCH reported that a Federal High Court in Lagos entered a judgement against NERC and electricity distribution companies in a suit opposing the Federal Government’s bid to increase electricity tariff.
Justice Mohammed Idris had declared as null and void any hike in electricity tariff following an announcement of the proposed increase in tariff by the then Chairman of NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi.
The court had since May 28, 2015 restrained NERC from giving effect to the proposed hike pending the determination of the suit filed against the move.
Ijose also stated that the debt owed the Discos by government agencies had not been paid despite several promises by the Federal Government.
He said, “Also, I just left a meeting this afternoon where we actually engaged the top brass of the military and others. The truth is the fact that about one month ago, the Federal Government cleared part of the 2015 and 2016 debts that were accumulated over a period of three to four years.
“But as we are talking right now, as of 2017 January going forward, nobody is even discussing it. Now, these are some of the liquidities that should have been thrown into the system to cushion all these challenges like metering and others, because we need investments to do these things.”
The Senior Partner, Nextier Power, Emeka Okpukpara, said it was high time for proper regulation and enforcement of stipulated laws in the sector, adding that the financial burden affecting the industry at present was also due to lack of adequate application and enforcement of certain laws.
When asked to react to the claim by the Discos, the President, MAN, Frank Jacobs, said he was in a meeting and promised to get back to our correspondent. However, he had yet to do so as of the time of filing this report.