The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), has explained that one of the reasons why electricity users continue to have numerous complaints to table is due to the failure of Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) in Nigeria to educate them about their rights as consumers.
This was disclosed Thursday during the ongoing Stakeholders Engagement on Customer Care Regulations and National Mass Metering Program in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State monitored by EnergyDay, with discussions centered on customer care regulation, National Mass Metering Program and complaints regulation.
Electricity consumers present at the event complained about several issues, including estimated billing,lack of compensation for asset procurement, unstable power supply, among others.
Dafe Akpeneye, Commissioner, Legal, Licensing & Compliance, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, explained that many electricity consumers keep acting wrongly and creating avoidable issues for themselves because they are not well-informed by their electricity distributors about their consumer rights.
“A lot of these challenges that are being faced by you consumers arise because people are not aware of their rights, and for that, you do not know the leverage that you have.
“We are always moving around and monitoring how customers are being treated by DisCos,” he said.
He also said that the agency is working towards ensuring that any official that claims to work for any DisCo has a proof before going out to represent the company in public.
“We have heard many cases of ex-DisCo officials who are no more working there engage with customers to defraud them.
“Anybody who comes to your premises claiming to be an official of any of the DisCos must have an evidence or proof to show you.
“There must be concrete evidence that this man operates in the premises of this DisCo. You need to also protect yourselves as customers.
“They (DisCos) all need to change their mindset. We are fully aware of what is going on and are making sure that all these things are being changed.
“From the regulator’s side, we are ready to ensure that this is institutionalized. But I cannot act outside the powers of the law.
Reacting to complaints by electricity consumers on getting compensated for purchasing assets for the DisCos, he said: “Going forward, before you start buying transformers or anything because you feel the DisCo is delaying and your community is in need of that transformer – let say the transformer is valued at N5 million.
“You want to do this because you don’t want to be in darkness, first ascertain if you are going to be getting compensation for that N 5 million invested.
“So, once you know your community has invested in the assets of a DisCo, as you enter the so-called Customer Care Units, the officials there should be able to tell you that, look, if you procured a transformer in your community, these are your rights; if you do the other, these are your rights.”
The Commissioner pleaded with the DisCos and warned that every agency in the power industry found guilty of breaking the rules and regulations that govern the Nigerian power industry, especially as it affects electricity consumers in the country, should be held accountable for their actions.
“We all have our respective responsibilities that we signed for in this sector.
“But I want to state that any official, be it the CEO of any DisCos that breaches the law, must be ready to face the consequences of that breach. It is no longer politics or business as usual.
“As the DisCos are here, I am ceasing this opportunity to say: if any of us are failing in our responsibilities, we should be held to account for those failures,” he noted.