"Electricity is Not Free”: Minister Tells DisCo to Publish Names of Customers Who Fail to Pay Bills

"Electricity is Not Free”: Minister Tells DisCo to Publish Names of Customers Who Fail to Pay Bills

  • The Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) has been given the go-ahead to publish the names of debtor customers
  • The minister of power gave the nod as he insisted that electricity used must be paid for if DisCos are to continue their services
  • The minister criticised the act of meter bypassing by some customers, which he said is making DisCos run at losses.

Legit.ng journalist Victor Enengedi has over a decade's experience covering Energy, MSMEs, Technology and the stock market.

The Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, has urged the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) to publicly disclose the names of individuals or entities who owe the company debts.

This directive was issued during a meeting between the minister and the BEDC management while conducting an inspection of power projects in Benin, the state capital.

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DisCo to publish names of debtors
"Electricity is not free”: Minister Tells DisCo to Publish Names of Customers Who Fail to Pay Bills
Source: UGC

The inspection tour took place over a year after the restructuring of the DisCo in July 2022, culminating in Fidelity Bank assuming control of the power firm.

This comes in light of a report from Legit.ng indicating that electricity consumers in Nigeria collectively owe electricity distribution companies (DisCos) a substantial sum of N343 billion.

Names of debtors to be published

Adelabu stated that disclosing the names of the company's debtors is justified since electricity supply comes at a cost and is not provided for free.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), he emphasised the importance of revenue for BEDC to sustain its operations and adequately serve its customers.

He said:

“There is nothing wrong with publishing the names of the company’s debtors because electricity supply is not free.

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“The BEDC needs money to remain in business and serve its customers well. I will not stop you from disconnecting organizations or individuals owing.
“I am also not going to stop you from publishing the names of the debtors. Nigerians need to know the truth.
“If you want to publish the names of those owing, you can go ahead and do so.”

Adelabu condemns energy theft, metre bypassing

Adelabu also expressed strong disapproval of the prevalent energy theft across the nation and vowed to introduce legislation in the National Assembly aimed at curbing it.

He reassured President Bola Tinubu of his dedication to enhancing power distribution and committed to finishing ongoing projects prior to initiating new ones.

The minister strongly condemned the practice of meter bypassing by certain customers, emphasising that it is causing electricity distribution companies to incur significant financial losses.

Deolu Ijose, the managing director of BEDC, highlighted meter bypassing as a major obstacle for the company.

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Despite this challenge, Ijose emphasised that BEDC has successfully linked numerous communities to the national grid and has also implemented feeder systems in its franchise states.

Distribution companies have continued to voice concerns about increasing customer debts, which often run into hundreds of millions of nairas.

The Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) had lamented an outstanding debt of N28 billion by customers in an Ogun state community, which has affected its operations.

AEDC publishes debt owed by Aso Rock, others

In related news, Legit.ng reported that Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) issued a disconnection notice to the Presidential Villa and 85 other ministries, departments, and agencies under the federal and state governments.

According to the disconnection notice published in national dailies on Monday, February 19, 2024, the indebted MDAs were given till February 28, 2024, to offset their bills or face disconnection.

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The DisCo stated that the total outstanding debt as of December 2023 amounted to N47.195 billion.

Source: Legit.ng

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