Power distribution companies in the country must stop blackmailing the Federal Government in various advertorials in the media, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has said.
According to Fashola, the firms should show how much the government’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies owe each of the power firms instead of hiding under an umbrella association to claim that they are owed over N100bn.
The Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors has been placing advertorials asking the MDAs to clear the debt they owe the power firms.
Fashola spoke at the monthly power sector meeting in Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State, according to a statement made available to our correspondent in Abuja.
He stated, “It is important to remind all of us that the privatisation exercise that transferred the distribution companies was not held as a contract with an association. It was between Nigeria and the distribution companies. So, while I respect the right of an association, the constitution guarantees the freedom of association, the Federal Government will not pay over N100bn to an association.
“That is not how to solve it. An association can’t own those debts. Every Disco knows how much power it supplied. We won’t pay estimates. The figure must remain clear in naira and kobo terms. And we will do our work. Therefore, I think that the adverts that the Discos issued should also have conveyed information to the Nigerian public about how many of them have supplied details of their audited accounts for the last three years. And we have been asking them to provide that.”
The minister said he opened an online platform for the Discos to send their debt claims but as of the November 4, 2016 deadline, none of the firms had complied to provide the required information for verification before payment.
Fashola said, “If the Discos want payment, as I have said, we will pay. But you have to prove the debt too and you have to prove the quantum. Each Disco will have to prove to us how much is being owed it.
“If you want to stash it all together under a gross sum or under an association; that is your choice. But we will pay to each Disco what each Disco proves as its liability. We will not pay an association.”