For some time now, some Nigerians have celebrated noticeable improvement in power supply, which should somewhat reassure President Goodluck Jonathan that he could do better with time. But what should bother the President is that some officials of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria in Surulere, Lagos, appear bent on discrediting this accomplishment by terrorising and extorting the people in the area.
Some friends in Surulere have bitterly complained that the pre-paid meters being issued recently behave like greedy casino boxes (unlike the ones issued earlier), and are burning people’s money like soft candles. The Ministry of Power should investigate this to see if these meters are bad or someone has altered their operations to mindlessly milking the people dry. Also, in Aguda, specifically, the Sanya Undertaking, which should rank as the most corrupt PHCN post in the country, another form of terror is flourishing. Here the PHCN officials have only assigned the pre-paid meters to a few people (probably, their friends), and have continued to terrorise the people with incredibly inflated bills. In most, if not all the cases, they do not even bother to read the meters. And whether power was supplied or not, bills would still be high. A friend living in the area told me recently that PHCN officials openly boast that even if they disconnect you because you were unable to pay their jumbo bills, that will not save you from still accumulating the same high bills every month or even higher. This obnoxious practice is creating serious tension in Sanya Undertaking, and may eventually blow over very soon, if nothing drastic and urgent is done.
President Jonathan must see this as a clear attempt to rubbish the modest goodwill he had garnered of late due to improvement in power supply, and act with dispatch to stop the sabotage. As head of the power ministry, he should personally demand to know why pre-paid meters are wickedly denied those in Sanya Undertaking in Aguda. Second, he should also order a thorough and comprehensive investigation into the billing system in the country as many Nigerians have had to complain of atrocious billing in recent months.
This act of oppression by the PHCN is creating serious anger and frustration and bitter complaints are growing daily. The way I see it, this growing tension might snowball into a major crisis soon. So, Governor Babatunde Fashola and the Lagos State Commissioner of Police should show interest in this matter, and not wait until there is a breakdown of law and order before they now swoop on the place to manage it and arrest people. Also, the House and Senate Committees on Power should look into this and take appropriate action. How can a few greedy PHCN marketers and their supervisors hold hapless people to ransom and extort and terrorise them with utmost impunity through crazy billing system? I am raising this alarm as a concerned citizen, and if the authorities refuse to act now, then they do not have any moral right to complain if the place explodes tomorrow.
I.D. Nga (Mr.)
Consumer rights activist,