BY RAYYANU BALA
Sir, with the greatest respect and a deep sense of humility and patriotism, I write you this letter on behalf of the entire people of Lafia to shower praises on you for the show of concern you demonstrated towards our plight regarding the non-availability of electricity in Lafia and its environs since the creation of the state some 26 years ago. Before your intervention through the approval you granted for the stepping down of a 330 KVA line in Lafia, which work was completed and commissioned by you in February 2022, the entire people of Lafia were living in darkness with all its attendant consequences, but your intervention through this 330 KVA Akurba sub-station has brought a sense of relief. The people of Lafia were indeed pleased with this gesture.
But sir, since you inaugurated this 330 KVA sub-station during your state visit to Nasarawa state last February, the story of electricity supply to Lafia has not changed one bit. It has been the same old story, no thanks to Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) for their inability to distribute the electricity, owing mainly to a lack of capacity to do that. Many complaints and observations have been lodged and aired in all channels of communication on AEDC incapacitation in Lafia, but all these were in vain. The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) appeared helpless on this matter. The non-supply of electricity to Lafia by AEDC on the one hand and exploitative charges on the other have become a serious matter to the people in the last one year. People are forced to pay for darkness so to speak.
Sir, just like I said earlier, residents of Lafia welcomed the Akurba 330 KVA line with great enthusiasm, believing that their long sufferings due to lack of electricity will come to pass, but regrettably, Lafia residents are made to contend with the old story as nothing was noticed in the hours of supply of electricity to consumers by the AEDC.
Sir, most disturbing, was the migration of consumers of electricity in Lafia from B and D to Band A. By this migration, consumers were made to pay for the electricity they did not consume. It may interest you sir, to know that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) stipulates that any electricity consumer on Band A must enjoy the supply of electricity for 20 hours and above per day, but in Lafia, despite placing consumers on Band A, consumers hardly enjoy electricity for five hours in a day.
Our amiable governor, Engr. Abdullahi Sule, during one of his protest visits to AEDC headquarters in Abuja last month, attested to the fact the residents of Lafia have never enjoyed a 10-hour or above supply of electricity in a day.
Sir, I also wish to bring to your attention that, faced with this wanton incapacitation of AEDC in Lafia, a group of concerned persons acting for and on behalf of Lafia residents under the name “Lafia Electricity Consumers Forum” petitioned AEDC over this unfair treatment of consumers in Lafia and its environs. In the petition, which was addressed to the Lafia Area Manager of AEDC and copied to AEDC headquarters in Abuja as well as the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the group complained about bitter experiences and the unbecoming attitude of AEDC in Lafia.
The group in the petition noted that AEDC has been billing residents of Lafia on band A while there has been no commensurate electricity supply to the city to justify the band A status.
Based on this strength, the group in their prayers urged AEDC to, as a matter of fairness, remove Lafia from band A and revert to band E, pending the time when AEDC is able to meet the requirement of 20 hours of electricity supply. The group further requested a refund of monies that were charged to Lafia residents under the Band A category from June 20, 2022 to date.
The petition against AEDC by some Lafia residents attracted screaming headlines in some Nigerian newspapers, with Leadership Newspaper even going to the extent of writing an editorial on the matter to attract the attention of higher authorities charged with the responsibility of regulating our electricity sector, but all these came to naught.
Sir, AEDC in Lafia doesn’t have the capacity in terms of functioning substations to sustain a 20-hour supply of electricity. The only substation that can sustain 20 hours of supply has been down for over a year now. And the substation is the one located along Shendam road opposite state low cost housing estate. The other two substations, located beside Tanko Al-Makura’s house along Jos Road, and the one at Marraraba Junction along Makurdi Road, have no capacity to sustain all four feeders in Lafia for 20 hours in a day.
Sir, for long, AEDC has been playing on the intelligence of its consumers in Lafia; the more the darkness the more AEDC smiles to the bank. And this is possible because 99 percent of consumers in Lafia are on estimated billing; therefore, whether there is electricity or not at the end of the month, consumers must pay the bill. If one fails to pay, a disconnection hammer is waiting, and whatever was paid, the balance will remain there in the account as a debt.
When Engr. Abdullahi Sule visited AEDC headquarters, the AEDC Managing Director assured the governor that in one week, AEDC will supply pre-paid meters to all its consumers in Lafia as a solution to all the problems electricity consumers are facing, but as at the time of writing you this letter, there was nothing to this effect. We only had a radio announcement that any consumer interested in a pre-paid meter should visit the AEDC office in Lafia and pay.
Sir, What is more intriguing here is that, based on the agreement signed between Discos and the federal government, Discos are to provide consumers with pre-paid meters free of charge, but surprisingly, AEDC is now saying consumers must pay for pre-paid meters. Even at the last presidential media chat held at the presidential villa, the Minister of Power, Engr. Abubakar Aliyu, was quoted as insisting that pre-paid meters are free.
Sir, having said these, I want to appeal to you to use your good office to direct all relevant agencies in power sector to prevail on AEDC, to One: revert consumers in Lafia to band E pending the time when they are fully ready to supply consumers with 20 hours of electricity per day. Two: a refund to all consumers all payments made under Band A, effective from June last year.
Sir, Akurba 330 KVA Sub-station is one of the greatest legacies you will leave behind for the entire people of Nasarawa State; therefore, you must make sure that nobody tampers with this legacy, and any attempt by anyone to tamper with this legacy should be taken as sabotage and treated as such.