The Akwa Ibom Electricity Consumers Forum is the brain child of two sister partner organizations – the AKWA IBOM HUMAN RIGHTS COMMUNITY (a network of civil society organizations working to protect, promote, and preserve the human rights of residents of Akwa Ibom State, and Akwa Ibom indigenes residing outside Akwa Ibom State), and the FOUNDATION FOR CIVIC EDUCATION, HUMAN RIGHTS, and DEVELOPMENT ADVANCEMENT) FoCEHRaDA) (a Human Rights organization with three thematic foci areas). The purpose of the Akwa Ibom Electricity Consumers Forum is to understand, address and seek redress for electricity consumers in Akwa Ibom State over their several complaints.
Following the unbundling of National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) into the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), and the subsequent privatization where eleven power Distribution Companies (DisCos) were midwifed into existence, these new limited liability companies, have extremely exploited consumers, because they must make profits after off-setting their over-heads.
Experience with the Port Harcourt Distribution (PHED) company in the four States of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River and Rivers, have been very harrowing, traumatic and tragic. In Akwa Ibom State, there have been incidences of over-billing, stealing of cables in the name of disconnection and carting away cables of consumers, disconnection without proper notices, unruly behaviours of marketers, no answers to complaints, non-supply of meters after payments made by consumers, and several other debilitating actions against consumers. Complaints are rising every day.
Having observed the sufferings of electricity consumers and customers in Akwa Ibom State, which has killed several business initiatives, thus crippling the local economy, despite the fact that it has being only the Akwa Ibom State Government in most instances, and the communities and consumers providing electricity consumables like, transformers, Injection Sub-stations, poles, repair and replacement of transformers, poles, cables and other, the PHED, has monopolized and dwelt solely on outrageous revenue collection. Over-billing, and forceful extortions have become the order of the day.
The meeting of the Akwa Ibom Electricity Consumers Forum held on 20th of July, 2023, resolved as follows:
Power Generation must improve beyond what it is right now to about 15,000 Megawatts, for easy transmission and distribution to end users, and to improve the manufacturing base of Nigeria;
The Government must NOT INCREASE electricity tariffs. The burden is already too heavy on Nigerians right now, and Nigerians cannot afford to pay more to private monopolies called Electricity Distribution Companies.
We disagree with the notion that there was, or is, SUBSIDY paid by the government on electricity tariff in Nigeria. The distribution companies are profit-making organizations whose major aims include making profits. How can the government claim that it was subsidizing the profit-making objectives of profit-making companies, which are not even supplying commensurate energy to the people.
We demand the Federal Government to explain in the most satisfactory manner to the people transparently, the dynamics of what it calls subsidy removal in the power sector, to warrant the proposed increase in electricity tariffs. If the FG cannot explain, we therefore conclude that ELECRICITY SUBSIDY is a scam.
The Rights of electricity consumers must be respected.
All electricity consumers in Akwa Ibom State must be metered to enable them pay for power they consume, and not waste energy. This is to also align with the NERC (Methodology for Estimated Billing) Regulations.
The Government of Akwa Ibom State should Guarantee meters for consumers in the State by putting modalities in place to pay for, and recoup such investments as social and welfare services to the people in line with Chapter Two of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended.
The Akwa Ibom State Government should establish electricity-utilizing profit-making entities that will Generate, Transmit, and Distribute power in the most efficient and transparent manner. This will amount to implementing the Electricity Act 2023.
Proper Disconnection Notices should be issued and served by the PHED before disconnecting consumers, and not the present situation where they hide what they claim to be Notices under another subhead. The intention of such acts by the PHED is criminal, and must opposed and resisted. The PHED must comply with NERC’s Connection and Disconnection procedures.
Electricity consumers in Akwa Ibom State are hereby advised NOT TO PAY FOR ANY UNSCRUPULOUS BILLS IMPOSED IN THE NAME OF ESTIMATED BILLS BY THE PHED. Once an electricity consumer contests and challenges any Bill, the Rule is that he must not pay it, until issues surrounding the Bills are resolved.
The distribution companies can now Sue and can be sued. The case of FRANCIS N. EKWERE AND PORT HARCOURT ELECTRICITY DISTRIBUTION COMPANY in Suit No. HU/203/2018 which was decided in the Uyo Judicial Division of the High Court of Akwa Ibom State before Hon. Justice Aniekan E. Akpan, readily comes in handy in how to Sue and Win electricity distribution companies in Nigeria. This matter has not been appealed, and so, serves as a Judicial Precedent.
We demand that the monopoly over Gas should be broken, so that States with gas reserves could harness it to power electricity, cars, domestic cooking, etc. This will stop the practice of gas wastage by flaring, which destroys the environment (human and natural), loss of islands in the State, rise in sea levels, shoreline recession, destruction of the Ozone Layer and other associated ills of gas flaring.
The FORUM observed that the present liberalization and pseudo restructuring commenced by the former president of the country, and continued by the current regime, would provide a groundswell of activities to make the country better disposed to responding to the welfare of the people by State Governments. The above Resolutions in this Communique should be implemented by the necessary authorities.
On behalf of the Akwa Ibom Electricity Consumers Forum, we are:-
Clifford Thomas, Esq. Comrade Ime Udoh
Coordinator, Akwa Ibom Chairman, Akwa Electricity
Human Rights Community Consumers Forum