Opinion:Why BEDC Operating License Should Not Be Renewed By FG

July 31, 2018

8.8 min readCategories: Opinion
By Pastor Olumide Akinrinlola
The Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) is one of the Nigerian Electricity Distribution Company (discos) whose operating license expires in September this year.

It will be the joy of Nigerians under the coverage areas of BEDC in Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Delta etc, if this justifications is considered by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari on why BEDC Operating License must not be renewed by federal government in September.

Apart from the fact that BEDC is an organisation whose presence is more of social media than physical presence within their coverage areas, there are many other legal grounds with some unethical practises on why the federal government should not renew the operating license of BEDC.

Some of these reasons includes but not limited to:

Illegal Disconnection

BEDC is well known for this mass disconnection of community without prior notices or due process. The company is renown for plunging communities and several local governments into darkness so as to compel the people to pay whatever amount leveled against them without justification for such indebtedness. This illegal act of disconnecting a whole community or local government from the national grid instead of electricity consumers who are owing, is not only illegal but inhuman, manipulative, and wicked.

Refusal To Give Customers Prepaid Meter

I know this act of not giving out prepaid meter is very common to all discos company in Nigeria, but BEDC is the worst of them all.  They don’t give out prepaid meter and they don’t normally make it available upon request by consumers because they hide under such avenue to keep extorting consumers to pay for what is not consumed by them. Just of recent, there was a leaked information circulating online over seventy thousand (70,000) pre- paid meters that were supposed to be given to consumers but were locked up at Nekpen- Nekpen complex.

Exorbitant Estimated Electricity Bills

Following refusal to supply prepaid meters for their customers, BEDC continue with estimated billing to defraud electricity consumers in all their coverage areas. This has been a regular trade mark which is now obvious to all communities in areas where they cover as a discos company. Some of their electricity bills are embarrassingly exorbitant due to estimation.

No Official Obligation

Since BEDC took over from PHCN in their coverage areas, they do not have any official obligations. No single transformer has been given to any community by them. Rather, individuals are donating transformers to communities when needed. Cost of procurement of damaged electricity facilities in many communities are being incurred by electricity consumers in affected communities. BEDC doesn’t care about procurement of new facilities to replace faulty facilities where necessary. They have shifted some of their responsibilities to electricity consumers. All they care about is mass disconnection of electricity consumers with the aim to maximising profit at the detriment of electricity users.

No maintenance Culture

BEDC lacks maintenance culture. 90% of their facilities are in poor condition. The rate of damages of electricity facilities due to lack of maintenance with resultant to blackouts in many communities under their coverage cannot be overemphasised. This has also led to service failure in their service delivery to their customers. This has also culminated to indiscriminate power supply at the discretion of the company to suit the whims of special customers in special locations under their coverage areas.

Customers Harassment

BEDC is also in the trade of harassing customers with police. They normally use military personnel attached to top flight staff of the company to harass electricity consumers who are protesting illegal disconnection. There are lot of cases of customers harassment in Edo, Delta by police on the instruction of BEDC management. This is unethical and should not be seen with any organisation who is business minded.

Flagrant Disobedience To Constituted Authority (NERC)

The case of Ondo south in Ilaje, Okitipupa, Irele and Ese Odo local government areas of Ondo State is a case study that authenticate some of the atrocities of BEDC. This case study explained below is more than enough for the federal government not to renew BEDC operating license come September this year.

The representatives of these local governments in Ondo South of Ondo State were able to substantiate proof of illegal disconnection by BEDC before the electricity commission, (NERC), with the following documentary evidences submitted to NERC in Abuja which cannot be countered by BEDC till date:

1. Due diligence audit report of the committee set up to review the outstanding debt owed BEDC which exposed some illegality of BEDC, were submitted to NERC in Abuja against BEDC.

2. Samples of outrageous estimated bills against electricity consumers were also submitted against BEDC.

3. Bills for houses which were prepared after disconnection were also tendered by representatives of Ondo South against BEDC.

4. Receipts of payment to BEDC for meters yet to be supplied till today were submitted to the electricity regulatory commission at Abuja against BEDC.

5. Bills showing credit balances before disconnection in 2014; and estimated bills given to customers, despite having meters were tendered against BEDC .

6. samples of bills paid up to date by customers before disconnection which prove that thousands of people are not owing BEDC before disconnection were tendered against BEDC.

7. Billing history of Ayila and Ayede communities in Ogun State which were padded into electricity bills of Okitipupa local government in Ondo state by BEDC were also tendered against the company at NERC office.

8. Also submitted were samples of billing register history on report of communities without electricity supply for over 10 years ago and yet, they were billed by BEDC.

9. Electricity bills of some buildings which were demolished  by rainstorm or some other disaster since 1992, rebuilt 2005, but had not been reconnected to public electricity supply, but were billed for consuming public electricity power supply by BEDC were also submitted against BEDC at NERC office in Abuja.

Submission of these documentary evidences led to a meeting at the commission’s (NERC) office in Abuja on July 6, 2017 whereby all the parties and representatives of relevant MDAs were in attendance. The meeting was presided over by Chijioke Obi, Deputy General Manager, Customer’s Complaint, at NERC Office in Abuja.

At the meeting, after the hearing of all parties by the panel, a resolutions was taken by NERC and BEDC was directed to resume back to work and reconnect the affected communities immediately. NERC also said BEDC should reconnect the affected communities before talking about payment of any amount of money for electricity debts since the representatives of all the affected communities succeeded to substantiate proof of illegal cut off . NERC also said that both parties should reconcile the disputed debts two weeks after resumption of BEDC at site for reconnection.

The resolution was contained in an official letter addressed to the chairman of due diligence audit committee, Mr. S. T Aderehinwo and a copy of same letter was also addressed to Hon. Mike Omogbehin, member house of representatives who led the stakeholders in discussion at NERC Office with Ref number: NERC/05/CA/CCU/BEDC/33/17/1112 following the proof of illegal cut off presented to NERC on July 6, 2017 by representatives of the people in Ondo South.

Till date, this directive was not obeyed by BEDC. They refused to reconnect all the affected councils in flagrant disobedience to the commission (NERC).

BEDC only came for account reconciliation and they keep asking for money before they could reconnect affected communities against the instruction of NERC.

It was also discovered in the course of account reconciliation that Ilaje Local government is even having credit balance of Two Million Naira (N2, 000,000) only with BEDC which BEDC also confirmed as true.

It shows that BEDC is also indebted to one of the local government (ILAJE LG) that were thrown into darkness by them.

What about the visit of the leaders of these affected communities to the Hon. Minister of power in Abuja; and the subsequent visit of the minister to Omotosho (Ondo south) which culminated in the eventual linkage of power to Omotoso, the host community of Omotosho power plant.

On the same issue, there were lot of motions on the floors of both states and national assembly. All the efforts and barrages of petition to NERC, the highest regulatory body on electricity in Nigeria; in spite of all these efforts and many more others I cannot list here, BEDC REFUSED to connect these communities back to the national grid till date.

BEDC has flouted every directives and persuasion from the honourable minister of power to connect Omotoso community, the host community of Omotosho power plant even when there is light in their back yard. The step down has been energized. Yet, BEDC disobey the minister by not connecting the host community back to the national grid.

Even the intervention and persuasion by the administration of governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu in Ondo State to get BEDC obey the directive of NERC, on July 6 2017 which was conveyed to all parties on July 10, 2017 through an official letter to all parties also proved abortive till date.

BEDC seem to have become a sacred cow. They seem to have become too powerful in Nigeria to an extent that they disobeyed the regulatory commission (NERC) at will and nothing is happening till date.

It may interest you to also know that BEDC does not have offices in many of their coverage areas apart from major cities. Some of the offices they acquired from PHCN are under locks and keys because they are not functioning.

Many communities under BEDC coverage who have been enjoying electricity before the advent of BEDC are presently in darkness which was created by the discos company through illegal disconnection as earlier raised above.

With above facts and many more, I appeal to the federal government under the leadership of president Muhammadu Buhari not to consider the renewal of BEDC operating license as it falls due in September.

This appeal is done in good faith on behalf communities who have suffered untold hardships under the coverage of BEDC not only in Ondo State but in Nigeria.

BEDC is among the discos company sabotaging the efforts of this current administration to ensure Nigerians enjoy stable supply of power at all levels.

Federal government must not renew BEDC license for the sake of common Nigerians and for the economy survival of major towns presently thrown into darkness by BEDC created darkness.

BEDC must go, as they have failed the people in cities and villages under their coverage areas.

We are relics of their first coming as disco company.

Pastor Olumide Akinrinlola is the Convener of Bring Back Our Light Group in Ondo State .

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