“I was equally given a price value of #15 thousand Naira as estimated billing at my residence in Bauchi and I wonder what methodical approach they used in arriving at that”Hon Yakubu Dogara, Speaker, House of Representatives Narrating His own ecounter of Estimated Billings in a Plenary at the Green Chamber
"I will be using a very harsh word to describe our billing system used by those managing our energy supply. "This is the biggest scam ever that Nigeria government must just have a critical look. “What is an estimated billing, is this not yet another stealing by trick that our government should be critical at” Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Majority Leader, House of Representatives showing his greviances over Estimated Billings indiscriminately meted out to Nigeria consmers at the House of Representatives plenary
Nigeria remains one very important country that determines many policy directives that are being proposed by developed countries for the many benefits that affect the African nation. This is singular because its largeness in population and signs of progress made over time in ensuring that best practice prevails coming with its major strides in peace and security within African sub-region has been adjudged by many observers as the main reason for this developments. Although, one cannot say all is well in other spheres, but then my observer would also agree with me that Nigeria still leads in Africa whilst others follow, even though regrettably, when looking at it from Chinua Achebe’s word that “Nigeria remained what it is because of the crops of leaders it has” cannot be wrong especially when looking at from our individual role in discharging leadership.
Unfortunately however, one area that is yet to making both the inhabitants and government come to terms with how leadership and management is being run with efficiency remains the way its energy supply driven policies has become a trap to its citizens, allowing private sector to leverage on this weakness to capitalize upon, and heap the bulk of what it intended to steal on ordinary Nigerians without any form of check and balances, that even the National Electric Regulatory Council (NERC) that regulates them has all of a sudden, found its voice in wilderness.
Regrettably, this is because even those at the helms of affairs coming from the nation’s National Assembly did not spare them with using the word” scam” in their direct encounter during their debate at the plenary with the nation’s privately owned company called the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) that is saddled with handling our sources of power supply in the entire country.
The cruel manner to which those at the other side ( that is the handlers) attend to the customer remains a source of discouragement, even their so-called customers care remains irrelevant, talk less of what those representatives have to offer. I say this because, in my encounter with Ikeja distribution in Egbeda undertaking that is saddled with the responsibility of ensuring efficiency in the way tariffs are being paid, managed and response on the feedback on customers remains pathetic. My encounter shows that those so-called attendees do not have any solution other than being on the side of their paid employers.
For instance, there was a time I paid the deficits that I met in my rented apartment I relocated, and even went to the extent of adding about four thousand naira payment in arrears with the power holding company of Nigeria (PHCN) and when the time for another billings came, what I got was about twenty thousand Naira as result. Again, I went to them at egbeda undertaking, I was told to put up a letter to that effect and narrate what exactly transpired. With having faith in hope, I did. Till the time of compiling this report, nothing changed.
This harrowing experience is what many jakande estate dwellers have continued to encounter every day in their hands till date, making some of us feel there are no implementable laws for us all except for those the government is having interest in, either true or not, that would be determined in near future. Egbeda is a location in Alimosho local government of Lagos state and jakande estate remain a low-cost housing estate that forms part of the environment.
Sadly, a broadcast station with a platform called channels sunrise daily debated the same issue, nothing came out. Recently, another bill was brought to my residence, opening it and flipped towards where the value of energy consummation that was used for the month is shown, what I saw again was an estimate of about seven thousand Naira in just a month for three bed-flat?
Some residents within that same location said their's is up to fifteen thousand; the question is how do they arrive at this? Even if you are estimating base on what is inside the entire building, one would be shocked at what some of our co-residence have in their apartment as majority of them living in ipaja jakande estate are Lagos state government retiree, therefore, what can they use as estimate without not being able to justifying their billings that has something to do with energy consuming objects there? Went and meet with them at their ponle “office undertaking” in Egbeda to demand an explanation reason for their action, was told my meter is actually faulty.
I ask” who is responsible” and what I got as a reply is that they are not responsible and that it was actually the reason I was given an estimate. That explains the exploitation and the corruption within that they have been dwelling in, ripping many Nigerians off and nothing is done to prove that milking people have severe sanctions. “The meter its self is found to be in good shape and because they said meter is not moving as expected, there is no other choice than to resort to estimated billing”this, I was told by the marketer that usually brings the said bills. I queried the fact that there was indeed an inscription on the meter that said” Do not touch the meter in whatever manner as the Nigeria Electric Power Authority (NEPA) has the sole responsibility to maintain and repair, therefore, it is advisable that every customer should contact the nearest station should the need arise”
I then told their representative that my meter was actually working and even if it wasn’t, it shouldn’t be the basis for which estimate is used as a yardstick! In Response, the representative of the Ikedc distribution Egbeda undertaking mince no ward in saying they have no choice. This is where my understanding of the fact that Nigeria government loudness in tackling corrupts is gradually not what it seems if it refuses to beam its searchlight into the private partnership it entered with Power Holding Company Of Nigeria (PHCN).
I say this because there is no way any private own station like power holding should be allowed to hold low income earning Nigerians to ransom in the way it did till today with using estimated billings to amuse wealth without any justifiable methodical approach at arriving at such tariffs especially at jakande estate in ipaja Lagos. Of what justification it is to bring fifteen thousand to a block of flat under the guise of estimated billings and you responded by saying it's inside the law bidding you and Nigeria government specifically claiming it exists in PHCN Law of 2015? Which after searching nothing of such was there, and even if it was how come the majority leader, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila describes them as the biggest scam? A majority leader who knows every bit on how it processes into private hands Started?
When president Buhari told us that “if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill us” our understanding is stemmed from the fact that the president would beam its searchlight towards the private sector and flush corrupt elements of this kinds out, but in the way things of this nature had been going, many Nigerians in my shoe canvasses more doubts in its reality. If, at our level of housing status, we are shouting and no one seems listening, how do we have confidence that those living above their means are equally discouraged given the terrible situation of whoever gets wealth becomes a lord in our society, the care to know how such person gets it, is never in contention but that he or she has arrived remains the inn thing?
If president Buhari must know, the beginning of corruption starts from low cadre and when some are unable to feed their families and are privileged to be in the mist where financial transactions of whatever kind is taking place in there workplace, how do we discourage such person from not using his or her position to influence or to abstain from corruption; in something that is unable to meet the needs of the entire family and then coming with outrageous billings system such as this that the power holding are using to steal from Nigerians? We do understand the efforts of the president in fighting corruption but there exist, harbinger of corruption at the power holding company (PHCN) that is corruptly enriching their selves as against the stand of president Buhari to which the larger multitudes of jakande estate in ipaja is now calling for it transparency check if it is true that all hands must be on deck in ensuring that corruption is put to stand still, where estimated billings is gradually becoming another corruption within.
Olusegun Ariyo is A journalist and Urban Planner