By Dave Okpogadie, Asaba
National Electricity Regulation Commission (NERC) and Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BDEC) have come under severe attacks from stakeholders and electricity consumers in Asaba, Delta State.
The attack came during the public hearing organized by NERC on the proposed electricity tariff review in Asaba recently.
NERC chairman, Prof. James Momoh had tried to convince the electricity consumers of the need for upward review of electricity tariff in Nigeria
In his argument, Prof. Momoh remarked that increase in tariff would translate into better services and improved power supply. He pleaded with stakeholders and consumers present to support the increase for improved service delivery from BEDC.
Prof. Momoh’s speech, was greeted with noisy protest and the hall was thrown into confusion as consumers and stakeholders voiced their anger and disappointment at his remarks in support of a distributor that has consistently failed to satisfy the power needs of the people.
Some of those that spoke reminded Prof. Momoh of same promise made to consumers before the former tariff was increased to the current operational rate.
Stakeholders noted that services became poorer after the increase in tariff and thereby, called on the federal government to seriously and urgently look into the operations of power distribution companies who are in the habit of ripping-off consumers with dubious and questionable estimated bills.
In the midst of the confusion created by his remarks, Prof. Momoh left the venue of the public hearing on the ground that he needed to catch his flight and that marked the end of the event as protests took over the proceedings of the programme.
Notable among the protesters was a group by the name ‘Young Nigerian Rights Organisation’. They came prepared with placards bearing different inscriptions to register their dissatisfaction with the BEDC.
Director General of the group, Comrade Victor Ojei later spoke to newsmen and expressed his anger at the dismal performance of BEDC.
Comrade Ojei, who accused National Electricity Regulation Commission, NERC of complicity, alleged that there was a plan by NERC to rig the public hearing in favour of BEDC in spite of overwhelming evidence of colossal failure against the DISCO.
“People no longer trust NERC because it is obvious they don’t have the will power to do the needful. They are only interested in enriching themselves by conniving with the DISCOS to rob the masses of this country,” he said.
Comrade Ojei berated the organizers of the public hearing for acting out a script by not giving the programme needed publicity because they did not want the public to attend the hearing.
In his words: “The public hearing was not given publicity and so the general public was not aware of the programme. BEDC even brought many of their staff here to look as if they are consumers of electricity.”
He also accused NERC of failing in its responsibility of protecting the consumers, adding that the DISCOs were not obeying NERC directives because NERC has compromised.
Comrade Ojei called on the federal government to seriously look into the activities of NERC and DISCOs and do the needful because no meaningful development can take place without stable electricity. BEDC has been a problematic DISCO with consumers constantly at war with the company. The Edo State governor recently issued the DISCO an ultimatum to shape up.