By: Olugbenga Olayiwola, – Igbo-Ora, Oyo State Constituency
Apart from profit making, other major reasons adduced for the privatisation of most of our public utilities such as NEPA, NITEL and others are greater productivity and tremendous improvement in service delivery as well as social and economic development of the nation. However, the below-the-expectation performance of some of these organisations despite the changes in ownership has continued to render the underlying objectives of the agenda a fruitless endeavour.
The gory tale of NEPA, sorry PHCN, now under the supervision of multiple ownership across the respective geo-political zones in the country attests to the fact that the changes that have taken place in the life of the organisation is just a matter of name! The reduction in power generation and supply of electricity across the country casts doubts on the government’s power sector reform.
Despite the changes in the ownership of electricity supply organisation, there has not been practical improvement in its service delivery to the nation. The supply of electricity nationwide remains erratic. And Nigerians have been groaning under worsening electricity supply. Yet, electricity subscribers are compelled to pay outrageous charges at the end of each month.
Electricity is appallingly and mischievously supplied to Nigerians, forcing them to pay for services not rendered. For example, in my geographical location, we only enjoy electricity for about two times in a month. The first supply is in the mid month while the second takes place at the end of the month, a signal that we should be getting ready for crazy bills. Erratic supply of electricity has also forced Nigerians to pay double expenses. We buy fuel to power generators in our various homes while we also pay for unused electricity!
The marketing department of the organisation does not help matters. Many are the houses and industries that do not have pre-paid meters to give accurate readings of the electricity consumed by them. The marketing department always depends on the size of homes and production capacity of industries to issue crazy bills at the end of each month. Complaints have continued to trail such practice. At times, ad hoc staff of the organisation take the advantage of this organisational malaise to defraud electricity subscribers across the country as there are no pre-paid meters to record the quantity of electricity consumed.
Besides, illegal collection of “connection fees” is another way by which corruption has eaten deep into the organisation. Collection of this fee from electricity subscribers has become a veritable platform through which Nigerians are being swindled. ‘Defaulters’ are made to cough up to N5,000 each, for their lines to be restored.
In a country where millions of Nigerians are living below the poverty line, there is urgent need on the parts of the concerned authorities to rescue the citizenry from the antics and claws of economic vultures and parasites who hide under the guise of national interest to achieve their inordinate gains.