Joe Ajaero, General Secretary, National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), has said the organisation will not support the "perceived attempt by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to illegally extend the license of nine distribution companies (DisCos)".
The DisCos had signed a five-year Performance Service Agreement (PSA) with the Federal Government after the privatisation process took off in 2013.
According to the statement titled: ‘Review of the Performance of Privatised DisCos’, the labour unions said an appraisal of the service delivery of the electricity distributors should have been concluded by October 31. BPE had, however, said in the same month that it would conclude an evaluation of the performance of electricity retailers in December 2019.
Organised labour described this as a "negation of the Performance Agreements which provides for a Five (5) year tenure stipulated in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and Power Privatization Act".
The statement read: “This is a negation of the Performance Agreements which provides for a Five (5) year tenure stipulated in the MOU and Power Privatization Act during which the core investors in the DisCos are required to fully achieve far-reaching efficiency improvement target. The companies which have been due for final performance review since October 31, 2018, being the 5th Year anniversary of their take-over of the power assets, have continued to illegally operate with flagrant disregard for the Power Privatization Act.
“We are worried that since the core investors took over the Privatized Electricity Assets on November 1, 2013, their performances have been abysmal with Nigerians bearing the burden of paying outrageous/estimated bills since they have refused to provide their customers with prepaid meters. A good number of them have carried out their operations within the period under review without Conditions of Service thereby turning the workplace to slave camps where workers are being disengaged without recourse to any law.
“Some of them like Egbin Power Plc and Enugu Distribution Company have been involved in stealing monies meant for the unions. More disturbing is the involvement of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) being government’s representative on the Board of these companies, who have not publicly declared a kobo profit as the Federal Government’s stake in the companies for the past five (5) years.
“Quite unfortunate that some of the DisCos have even gone to the extent of rejecting load from the national grid as wheeled by the Transmission Company, yet nobody is checking this unholy act.
“In conducting unbiased periodic reviews of the performances of the DisCo/GenCos companies towards the final review of their performances come November 31, 2018, the BPE should be excluded from mid-wifing the process; being members of the various boards of these DisCos. They cannot be umpires in their own games. We therefore call on the Federal Government of Nigeria not to renew the licences of companies that have operated with impunity and without conditions of service as the union and other civil society organizations will not allow this dastardly act continue unabated.”
The DisCos have always maintained that they are unable to meet any agreements due to the underpricing of the product which they sell- electricity. They have referred to the inability of the regulator, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), to organise reviews of the electricity tariff based on the guidelines drawn up in the multi year tariff order (MYTO). According to that document, the electricity fee is to be evaluated every six months and minor changes made based on certain factors. The last consultation held in September 2017, but no decisions emerged.
On the other hand, the Federal Government, through the Rural Electrification Agency, have partnered with independent power producers to deliver electricity to major markets in Abia, Kano, Oyo and Lagos states. During a visit to Sura Shopping Complex, the pilot market in Lagos, its executives said the preferred IPP will sell power to them at N52 kilowats per hour. Meanwhile, certain class of customers under the DisCos pay as low as N27 per kilowatt hour, for a product the electricity retailers say cost them N80 per kilowatt hour.