A recent video surfaced on the internet showing 3 banks in the Port Harcourt area of rivers state committing various forms of electricity theft.
The video which was posted by an independent advocacy group shows how banks use cunning ways to avoid paying their required power charges.
These banks are yet to respond to the claims but to be honest, there’s really little to be said. Electricity theft is rife in Nigeria, and contributes to billions of losses in revenue for the Distribution companies. The loss incurred from electricity theft alone is enough to invest in thousands of transformers and prepaid meters.
Taking a deep dive into the situation, we realise that it isn’t all that shocking that banks are guilty of electricity theft. The average Nigerian expects electricity and other services free and so will naturally apply those principles in the place of work as they have probably done at their homes for a long time. A new survey at a recent Spark event with media people threw up amazing numbers, only 4 in 20 people in the room had never bypassed or paid a utility staff to keep their wires up when they had defaulted on their bill payments. Two of the four people that had never engaged in these acts of corruption and by-pass had never contributed to bill payments in their homes, they went from being dependents to getting married and someone else had always sorted these issues.
While electricity theft has received more widespread awareness over the last year, it is clear that there is still a long way to go before people and sadly, corporate organisations fully grasp the detriment to the power sector this vile act causes.
Distribution companies are fighting to stay afloat and with liquidity crisis constantly resurfacing, these companies are faced with somewhat insurmountable challenges on a daily.
While we are not going to give any awards to most players in the power sector, who are often guilty of incoherent service infrastructure and downright poor customer relations. We must realise that when we commit electricity theft, nobody wins. Electricity theft slowly but surely cripples the power sector and we will never see a better Nigeria if we all keep contributing to the problem.
It is the right time to recognise electricity theft as an economic crime and propose laws that will administer punishment to offenders.