Military formations in the country as well as government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) may soon experience power blackout as the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), a group of 11 energy distribution companies (DISCOs), may begin power disconnection in these institutions over N26 billion accumulated debt.
Speaking with journalists in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital, Mr. Sunday Oduntan, ANED Director, Research and Advocacy, said that military formations in Kaduna, Lagos, Oyo, Kwara and Ogun states owe the DISCOs more than N10 billion.
A breakdown of electricity debts given by Oduntan showed that the military and MDAs of both Federal and state governments owe N6.7 billion under Kaduna DISCO, N7 billion under Abuja DISCO, N5.2 billion under Ibadan DISCO, N2.3 billion under Eko DISCO, N3.8 billion under Benin DISCO, and N860 million under Kano DISCO.
The debts in other DISCOs are running into several billions of naira.
“Of all the money we are collecting from distributing electricity to the public, we only retain less than 25 percent as our own. All the remaining money goes to the other stakeholders. When you buy electricity, you supply out and the military, the MDAs and people are either not paying their bills or stealing energy, you now have commercial and collection losses
“In the case of non-payment, the greatest problem we have today is the Nigerian military. Now, given the figures under the DISCOs or wherever you see military formations, they owe huge electricity debts and the problem we have is that most of these military formations have refused to pay and they owe so much.
“I will just give you some of the examples: under Ibadan DISCO military owes N3.9 billion; in Kaduna DISCO, the Nigerian military owes N6.3 billion and owes N263 million under Kano DISCO. Our records also show that the military and MDAs owe Abuja DISCO about N7 billion, just as the military and para-military debts under Eko DISCO stand at N1.9 billion,” Oduntan stated.
He accused military officers of beating up electricity workers whenever they want to collect the electricity debts, and appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene and rescue members of staff from the continual beatings and humiliation they suffer from the military men, adding that the debts are killing their businesses and preventing further investments.
“Now, the military are fond of not paying for electricity used (by them) and each time we try to collect the money, they beat us up. In Ogun State, the Alamala 35 Artillery Brigade in Abeokuta owes us N106 million; in Ota, the military formation under Ota Business Unit, they owe us N585 million. That is in the South-West alone.”
Oduntan hinted that the power firms have resolved to adopt a different approach.
“Well, I want to believe that we have changed. This is a new government and I don’t think that any military will disobey the Presidency. We know what we can do.
“It doesn’t take us much to disconnect them and put them in darkness, and then (make them) resort to diesel if that is cheaper. But we don’t want to do that yet; we are a responsible set of companies that believe in the rule of law and the new government with change mantra,” he said.