Electricity theft is the criminal practice of stealing electrical power. It can range from an illegal connection, meter bypass down to liaising with a disco staff to stay connected to the grid without offsetting your bills. NERC has a 21-page draft dedicated to electricity theft and related offenses and is currently finalizing a regulation that imposes a fine penalty on consumers who bypass their meters.
While the DisCos are being mandated to ensure its customers are all incorporated into a prepaid meter system, recent statistics show that 15% of the meters installed between January to June 2017 have already been compromised.
Yusuf Hamisu Abubakar, chairman KEDC proposes that one of the ways to achieve growth and sustainability is to ensure that energy accountability across the supply chain is necessary for the credibility and interdependence of the value chain where power is to flow from gas suppliers, generating companies to transmission, distribution and then to the consumers while cash is to flow in the opposite direction. This cannot happen if one end of the value chain fails to fulfill its end of the bargain. If the DisCos are continuously recording losses due to theft then the supply chain of power is broken. What affects one end indirectly affects the others in a ripple effect.
Eko disco’s record shows a loss of 1 billion Naira due to theft and vandalism, PHED loses over 100 million kilowatts of energy or about N3bn yearly to electricity theft. These are situations that cannot be looked on with face value or simply neglected.
It was thus cringeworthy when the Chairman of the NERC Forum in Port Harcourt, Engr. Emeka Unachukwu declared at a NERC hosted stakeholder event recently in Port Harcourt that the claims by PHED albeit the entire power sector and its attendant intelligentsia was or is a fraud.
I do not want to imagine millions of naira spent to educate the professionals currently managing affairs of regulations and operations of the power sector, neither would I want to dwell on the degrees and hours of study accumulated by the professionals and technocrats to earn their appointments and positions across the length and breadth of this country. The NERC Forum Chairman looked them all in the eye and announced to the world that their knowledge and information gathered through painstaking work and research is a fraud.
Engr Unachukwu did not question the integrity of the DisCos, he questioned the integrity of the Honourable Minister of Power Barr Babatunde Fashola who has worked with stakeholders to seek an enforcement of the laws which will give teeth to the fight against electricity theft. Engr Unachukwu questioned the integrity of the Legal Scholars, the Judges and honorable men and women who seek to offer solutions against this scourge.
Ignorance is bliss as they say, but this level of ignorance is in bad taste as such a man who exists in oblivion of a threat to our national development should not be allowed to hold such a position, his very ignorance on electricity theft negates the position which he currently occupies as he does not have the requisite knowledge of the sector in which he participates in.
Engr Unachukwu told the world on that fateful day that he lacks the reputation and knowledge to act in the capacity of a Forum Chairman of the industry watchdog, the honorable thing to do would be to resign his position failing which NERC should show him the door. He has questioned one of the pillars of the regulators’ existence by arguing against a notorious fact and should not be allowed to preside over matters relating to a field in which he lacks knowledge.