Monday, 20 May 2013
PHCN-Witches, Demons and Crazy Bills By Jon Chikadibie Okafo
Ever since Barth Nnaji was booted out as Minister of Power, I kept delaying the need to write something about the power situation in the country and the scandalous entity that is the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN). Well, I am furiously writing this now because I just received another crazy bill from the PHCN and my patience suddenly turned into anger, shock, disappointment and anguish.
There is really no point repeating the shame, rot, scandal and gargantuan personification of corruption that is the Power Sector of our economy; we have been treated to gory tales of maggot-infested faeces-like scam that is replicated in the industry by past governments. Billions of dollars have been sunk into providing reliable power supply to Nigerians-the result is nothing but more darkness and dilapidated transmission and generation equipment while those entrusted with the task/funds suddenly became billionaires and recipients of National Honour/chieftaincy titles!
To bring the gist closer home, my monthly PHCN bills have remained on a steady rise since Barth Nnaji bowed out; under Barth as Minister of Power, I enjoyed a substantial amount of power supply sold at N22 per khz. Incidentally, Professor Nnaji’s efforts at sanitizing the industry ruffled some feathers, feathers that apparently benefit from the rot in the system, and he was sacked immediately. Ever since then, power supply has nose-dived and the bills more erratic and shocking-literally and otherwise.
From Surulere, Lagos where I live to Amawbia, my home town, the story is the same; power supply has dropped outrageously, while the bills keeps rising, and rising, and rising! Welcome to the era of “estimated billing”-a period of time where evil-minded PHCN officials sit down in their ramshackle offices and concoct very demonic and weird bills just to jolt us hapless Nigerians to our early graves. Gone are the days when NEPA officials went round the entire neighbourhood reading meters and billing accordingly.
As a worried and reluctant PHCN customer that continues to weep anytime I hand over my money to the shambolic PHCN, I made out time to find out what the heck was eating up the utility company. It is shocking, pathetic, wicked, and reprehensible and evil the extent the government of President Goodluck Jonathan via PHCN is going to heap more pains and hardship on Nigerians. If you are still searching for reasons why our President could not look straight into CNN’s camera on his bland interview with Christine Amanpour, look no further-The President knew we was being economical with the truth and his conscience couldn’t let him look into the probing cold camera.
The level of evil and wicked customer service orientation at play in PHCN is daily peaking (especially in Masha Surulere Business Office); marketing officials do not go out to read customers’ meters anymore, why bother when you can sit in bar somewhere in Surulere, drink as many bottles of beer as possible and conjure crazy bills?
That is the practice now-I was shocked last month when a marketing Manager in Masha (Surulere) office insisted my meter was read and my bills correct! This was after I proved to the evil-looking Manager that there was no power supply to my entire neighbourhood for seven weeks as a result of a faulty transformer. The said transformer was taken away by same PHCN officials and all the houses in that area were forced to part with N5, 000 as bribe for PHCN officials before a replacement was brought (mean criminals).
Have you also wondered why it is now easier to find a saint in the PDP than to acquire a “pre-paid meter” from PHCN? Well, in the beginning, it appeared to be easy getting the meter but suddenly, the PHCN in their bizarre way found out they were losing money rather too fast and decided to put a stop to the “pre-paid” madness. You now hear all sorts of stories if you dare ask for the meter. As a consumer, you only pay for power supplied, and because most times, PHCN prefers holding on to power, you will not be required to pay, and there won’t be any case of “estimated-billing”! So, it now makes more business sense making pre-paid meters unavailable and charge customers wickedly, than allow them enjoy “pay-as-you-use” services.
When will Dr Sam Amadi (NERC) convincingly explain to us the reason why distribution companies charge us for power not supplied, and disconnect us if we dare complain? I was disconnected last month because I challenged a bill during a time there was no power supply for 7 weeks! PHCN’s philosophy remains “pay now and complain later”. From my investigations, I gathered that power supplied to any disco must be paid for irrespective of the technical losses encountered in the course of transmission. Now, distribution companies charge customers for power not supplied or consumed just to meet up with their share of the already projected revenue. I challenge Dr Sam Amadi of NERC or any PHCN official to stand up and deny this.
This is the story all over Nigeria and our government is playing the ostrich and yapping about transformation...what bloody transformation are we talking about when the entire nation is in darkness? This is the height of wickedness; when the cost of electricity was hiked by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2012, he swore that there was a subsidy in place to cushion the shocking effects of the increase. What do we have today in Nigeria? A situation where the government sinfully continue to add money for fuel and generators in its budget while blowing hot air about revamping the power sector- well, the only revamping I see in the sector is a pocketful of cronies of the government smiling to the back while we continue to thank China for the power generators in our homes.
I sincerely believe that PHCN as a company has violated every Nigerian (except those super-rich politicians and oil subsidy thieves) and we really must rise up in protest against the government that has hung this evil entity round our necks. When are we going to get tired of being treated as slaves in our country? When are we going to start holding people accountable for their actions in Nigeria? The PHCN as constituted remains an evil force militating against the attainment of a “darkness-free” Nigeria. The staffs of PHCN are over-paid and underutilised; most of them have become both obsolete and archaic-they have nothing to offer. Just like their equipment.
I am really tired of hearing how many billions were spent in one power project or the other; I need to see the results. What rational explanation will the PDP give this country for wasting more than $25 billion on “power generation” with nothing to show for it (well we have a few billionaires, govt officials all)? Like Pius Adesanmi rightly said, “my mumu don do”. I will not take this nonsense anymore! Henceforth, I will do all within my power to ensure that we kick out the PDP! Enough of this stealing and insults!
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters