Left high and dry by an incoherent state, many Nigerians have turned to many coping strategies for survival. Some beg, some engage in self-dehumanising sycophancy, some have gone to become prayer warriors, many have turned to cultism while there are not a few who rely on juju, all of these to survive. The great story, however, is that there are still many who follow the ‘rational’ tract and that is what the account below speaks to. It has been extracted from the wonderland called the social media. Having passed from one platform to another, the name of the author is missing but Intervention is hoping to trace and give him the credit for the write-up. This paper looks forward to a similar account on these service providers loading silly texts on customers and on any of these bureaucratic jungles who think they can maltreat consumers because governance is on AWOL in Nigeria. Above all, the writer concluded with a clarion call. The piece has not been edited much just to retain the actuality that defines it. Read on – Editor
A thread on how distribution of PREPAID METER TO ALL may never be achieved in Nigeria. After the Nigerian Police, Nigerian Electricity distribution companies are next on the list when it comes to corruption. This has been in existence from time immemorial, just like barracks, many government have come and gone but the deep rooted corruption in the system remains.
In April 2016, I moved in to my current apartment. The apartment was still connected to an old meter and there was an outstanding payment of about N385,000.00 to be paid. This wasn’t revealed to me before I made payment for the rent, as usual (that’s how they all do). This became a worry and an absolute headache. I asked the landlord why it was so and she made me understand that the apartment was not in use for 5years. I asked how come it wasn’t reported to NEPA so they’d stop the billing. She gave me a copy of the letter she wrote to them. So I took the matter up, wrote several mails to Eko Electricity Company and the matter was on for 11months. (Note that in the space of this 11 months, I never got a monthly bill lesser than 24,000.00).
You want to ask if I have a factory in my apartment? No I don’t. So, it extended from wanting the company to zerorize the ridiculous outstanding balance in the billing account to fighting and contesting the outrageous billing system which do not in any way represent my true electricity consumption and wanting a Prepaid Meter.
The battle began. After several exchange of mails between myself and Eko Electric and no solution was forthcoming, I moved the matter to NERC, the regulatory body for all electricity distribution companies in Nigeria. I filed a petition against Ekedp and the undertaking in charge of my area. Lo and behold, after three days from the petition submission to NERC, I got a call from the Marketing Manager for my area pleading for me to make myself available to allow them come to my house and take inventory of the electrical appliances I use.
NERC is working yeah? Right. A staff of the Ekedp came to take the inventory and at the end of the computations, we calculated and multiplied each appliance by the estimated units they consume per day and multiplied by 31days. Recall I said I never got a bill less than 24k in a month? Then we arrived at a figure that even the Eko Electric staff who came to take the inventory opened his mouth and couldn’t close it. What I should be billed based on having 24hour light per day (which is not even possible) in 31 days was 4,800.00. I almost ran mad. I took a copy of the report, scanned it and attached it to my next petition to NERC.
At this point, the marketing manager attached to my undertaking had started calling and begging me to stop the petitions. That they could all get sacked if matters gets escalated further. Then in September 2017, after all the troubles and how I never got tired of pursuing the issue, I got a mail from Eko electricity to come with some required documents in order to fill a form for a PREPAID METER. I went there and did as they requested. At Last! On 27 November 2017, I was on leave.
I was at my gate when this Alfa looking guy was parading and trying to see house number on the fence. My instinct told me to ask if he was asking for Ayo, then he said yes. He was the prepaid meter installer, he was with my new prepaid meter I also recall that before the whole issue started, I was discouraged severally that I can never be given prepaid meter due to the outstanding balance on the billing account, I paid no mind to all the people that said that and went ahead with my case.
I got the Prepaid meter for FREE. After a week, bill was brought and boom, outstanding balance has been cleared from 385,000.00 to zero balance. How did I achieve this? I mean I didn’t pay a dime to anyone and I never for once bribed my way in all my dealings. I achieved this simply because;
- I knew my right.
- I wouldn’t settle for mediocrity
- I never stopped pushing even after several months and it seemed unachievable
- I was ready to take the matter up anywhere
- I was informed.
Now imagine how many people are out there who don’t even know how to go about such tedious and draining process. I learnt that a lot of people even paid as much as 40k to get the prepaid meter. Something that’s supposed to be free! Since the prepaid meter was installed in November 27 2017, I have not exhausted the 303 units that came with it which is calculated to be 7,200.00. And I still have 140units left to use.
That’s over four (4) months now! Do you now see why these people will never allow dream of every homes having a prepaid meter become a reality? Because such development will block all holes where the electricity distribution corrupt members of staff perpetrate their fraudulent activities and corruption from. They know that they will be forced to give light more in order to generate revenue and will not be able to charge people outrageously as they are currently doing and remitting the proceeds of their criminal act to their pockets.
Stand up and Fight for what is your right. Prepaid meter is your right, fight for it to the letter. If you believe that your monthly electricity bill do not represent your consumption, make a case. If you’re in Lagos, Ikeja Electricity Company and Eko Electricity Company are there for you. If they fail, involve NERC. That will be all, for now. Due to popular demand, these are the email addresses you can forward your complaints to – Ikeja Electricity Distribution – firstname.lastname@example.org, Eko Electricity Distribution – email@example.com, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission – firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you know that, by law, you are entitled to at least 14 days between the date you receive your Electricity bill and the date when you are to pay that bill? Do you know that, by law, your Electricity Distribution Company must give you a written notice of disconnection before it can disconnect you for non-payment of your bill? If you answered yes to the last question, then do you know that, by law, your Electricity Distribution Company must wait for at least 90 days from the date of giving you notice of disconnection, before it can legally disconnect you? Do you know that if you are unlawfully disconnected, you can compel your distribution company to reconnect you without paying reconnection fee, and that you can get this done without going to court?
Do you know that, if you are illegally disconnected, you are entitled to damages at a minimum of #1,000 per day to be paid by your Electricity Distribution Company for each day of disconnection till your power is restored? Do you know that there is an administrative body that meets in your city, or a city close to you, that monitors the activities of Electricity Distribution Companies and will compel them to respect your rights if they breach same?
If you answered NO to any of these questions, then you, like so many others, are the victim of a conspiracy of silence by the Electricity distribution companies, who have been statutorily mandated to carry out regular public awareness campaigns on these and other consumer rights within their franchise area.
There is a solution at hand. An online platform has been created to educate power consumers of their rights under the reformed power sector in Nigeria. Not only that, if you have suffered from any breach of your rights, you can get *free help* on that platform to enforce your rights. Go to www.nepawahala.ng. Register. Ask any question that bothers you. Ask for help. It’s all free. One candle loses nothing by lighting another. It only spreads light and pushes back this present darkness.
If you have suffered from a breach of your rights as a power consumer, chances are someone you know has been, or is, a victim too. Light a candle. Push back the darkness by forwarding this message to at least 20 persons.