Protesters from Edo, Delta, Ondo, Ekiti Storm Abuja over Poor Power Supply as BPE Expresses Concern

Protesters on Wednesday stormed the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing in Maitama, Abuja to protest against the renewal of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company operational licence.
The protest was organised by the BEDC Franchise States Peoples’ Alliance and had protesters, comprising smaller groups from Edo, Delta, Ondo and Ekiti States.
The groups urged the ministry to avoid being compromised and demanded for the non-extension of the licence of Vigeo Holdings Limited, the firm in charge of power supply in the states..
A leader of the protesting groups from Edo said the DISCO has not added any value to what it met, adding that the region has been groaning under heavy estimated bills with deliberate non-supply of metres.
The groups also said the BEDC has refused to provide transformers and electrical poles including ancillaries
”Since the takeover, the BEDC has not demonstrated any discernable improvement or added value to what they on the ground. Nigerians have been groaning under heavy estimated bills, a deliberate non-supply of meters, molestation of customers with military personnel, refusal to connect communities to the national grid, non-provision of transformers, poles and other ancillaries,” a spokesman of the group, Leftist Agho said.
The group described the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) reported one-year extension of the company’s licence as unacceptable.
”It is our humble submission that the five-year probation period is sufficient for the review of the performance of the DISCO to determine renewal of operating licences or otherwise.
”It is clear to all and sundry that the operators of the BEDC have failed in all fronts since takeover. A review of reports and surveys from the four states’ houses of assembly, civil society groups, extracts from town hall meetings, petitions, protests by communities have revealed that the BEDC has not delivered in accordance with the performance agreement entered in November 2013.
”Hence they do not deserve an extension or renewal of operational licence. The people are fed up with the unfair business operations of the management of the BEDC and can no longer take it.”
However, the Bureau of Pablic Enterprise (BPE), has discribed as untrue, rumours that the operating licences of 11 electricity distribution companies in Nigeria have expired and nneeded to be renewed by the federal government.
The Director-General of the agency, Alex Okoh, disclosed this on Wednesday Benin, Edo State, while briefing journalisits at the headquarters of Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC).
Okoh also cautioned against alleged planned protest against operations of BEDC by civil society groups.
He clarified that performance agreement review which is the review of the performance benchmarks of the Discos, and the responsibility of the BPE, is quite different from licencing of Discos, which he said is the business of the Nigerian ​Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).
According to him, under the sale agreement, under the Discos and BPE, the requirements of the performance agreement, January 2015 became the start day for the calculation of the performance review period for the Discos, which essentially means that the fifth year anniversary date for the review of the performance agreement will be December 31, 2019 and not November 1, 2018.
“We have followed the developments in the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (Benin Disco) with keen interest and indeed the attention of the Bureau has been drawn to certain erroneous information over the purported renewal of the licences issued to the Discos.
“This agreement is monitored periodically, but renewed wholistically in five years and the due date for the wholistic review is December 31, 2019. The issue of licencing is a different matter and is handled by the NERC.
“I have had to explain the issues​ around the operations of the Discos, not only to dispel the rumours and innuendos around the revocation or otherwise of the operating licences of Discos
“The government respects contracts and would not do anything to jeopardize the operations of companies that the FGN had willingly entered into agreement​s with, including Discos.
The BPE boss assured that the Federal Government is pursuing a comprehensive power sector recovery programmes that will address the challenges of the sector.
“The BPE on behalf of the Federal wishes to state categorically that there is nothing like ongoing in terms of contract or license renewal for any of the 11 Distribution Companies (Discos).
“Indeed, the sale of BEDC and the other 10 PHCN companies by BPE to core investors is a once for all transaction resulting in 60% acquisition of the company by the core investors whilst BPE (as the government holding agency) owns 40%.
“This means that for BEDC, Vigeo Power who is the core investors runs the company as a core owner of same,” Okoh said.
He therefore appealed to civil society groups in Edo, Ekiti, Ondo and Delta States, covered by BEDC, to shelve their planned protest against the alleeged renewal of its licence.
“I would like to appeal to the civil society groups, residents, and all stakeholders in the Benin Disco area to exercise restraint and allow the company perform its function of electricity distribution without hindrance.
The Managing Director/CEO of BEDC, Mrs. Funke Osibodu, had earlier in her speeeh said, as part of effort to boost power availability to customers, the company has signed an MoU with Rubitec Nigeria Limited and Rocky Mountain Institute, Colorado USA, to provide mini grid electricity solution.
She also explained that the disruption of electricity supply to parts of Benin city since November 7, was caused when the company’s maintenance crew which was clearing shrubs close to the sub station and a branch from a tree fell and tripped the primary and secondary breakers of the T21 60MVA, 132/33Kv transformer.
According to her, “Unfortunately, one should have expected the relay setting at TCN to stop impact on the transformer,” but it did not.

Author: News Editor

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