The Regulatory Manager at the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), Barr. Tunji Adeyeye led the call during PUBLIC CONSCIENCE, an anti-corruption radio programme produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG, Wednesday in Abuja.
Adeyeye, who revealed that corruption in the electricity sector has become pervasive and orchestrated by people from every stratum of life within and outside the industry, stressed that the efficiency of the Distribution Companies (DisCos) and the entire value chain are affected.
He alluded that corruption rocking the sector is perpetrated by citizens in collaboration with some workers at DisCos while lamenting the absence of a concise law and quick measures to tackle the worsening spate of energy theft by electricity consumers.
“Electricity is a product you cannot store, so the culture of usage and payment is critical, and that largely rests on the customer. We have a very high situation where you see people steal electricity. Both the high, low and mighty are involved, and many bypass the electricity meter.
“We (ANED) have been lobbying the National Assembly for years to enact legislation on energy theft as we have in Ghana or Togo where we have instant mobile courts that adjudicate issues and set instant penalties for offenders.”
Adeyeye called on citizens to stop stealing energy through meter adjustments or bypass while calling “for the National Assembly to pass energy theft and vandalism law that is workable, practicable, and enforceable.
“There has to be change in the culture of our people. Electricity infrastructure is within the people. The sabotage and corruption go in conjunction with people, so we must vehemently stand against anything corrupt even if it is beneficial to us,” Adeyeye advised.
On his part, the National Secretary of the Nigerian Electricity Consumers Advocacy Network (NECAN), Uket Obonga, tasked the Federal Government to take advantage of technology to fight corruption in the electricity sector. Additionally, that the government should strengthen the existing weak governance structure and overhaul the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), as well as stop contract fraud in the sector.
Obonga insisted that energy theft can be tackled if technology is deployed adequately and urged the Federal Government to review power sector privatization, noting that it is five years overdue.
“The regulatory institution must be strengthened. Let Nigerians who are ready, willing and capable of doing the work.
“There is technology you can deploy to stop energy theft, so if somebody is tampering with line, meter, or bypass, it is detected in the office,” Obonga said.
Nigerians who phoned the radio programme raised various complaints concerning electricity supply in their localities ranging from pricing, poor service delivery and inadequate infrastructure issues.
Public Conscience is a syndicated weekly anti-corruption radio program used by PRIMORG to draw government and citizens’ attention to corruption and integrity issues in Nigeria.
The program has the support of the MacArthur Foundation.