A new deal signed in Abuja, yesterday, between Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and National Orientation Agency (NOA) is aiming to address the growing concerns of electricity consumers in Nigeria.
Recall that NERC and Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) had earlier signed a pact to ensure consumers’ rights are respected in the electricity sector.
In the first quarter of last year, NERC had said complaints received by electricity distribution companies in the country from consumers rose by 17.37 per cent to 478,415.
By implication, the new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between NERC and NOA, if implemented with all seriousness, will empower electricity consumers to know their rights and stand for them through awareness and education.
The development will also expose electricity companies to little regard for NERC’s orders, codes, regulations and standards of performance.
While NOA claims presence in all local governments in the country, Chairman of NERC, Sanusi Garba, noted that the MoU would enable NERC to use NOA offices across the nation in the area of publicity and resolution of complaints by electricity customers.
Represented by NERC Commissioner (Legal, Licensing and Compliance), Dafe Akpeneye, Garba admitted that, given the population of the country and landmass, the partnership remains a critical leeway for the protection of consumer rights.
Garba said: “Our sector requires a lot of sensitisation and we are meeting with NOA because we know that we cannot do the sensitisation on our own. We have a very large country with a population of over 200 million people in 774 local government areas.”
According to him, the partnership will provide a platform to educate Nigerians and address challenges facing the sector.
Coming at a time when the National Assembly passed the electricity bill, the chairman said the power sector is technical but consumers are mainly concerned about an adequate supply of electricity.
The essence of this partnership is to create a vehicle whereby we have a platform where Nigerians are educated on issues about the sector, issues of safety, electricity theft and others,” Garba said.
Director General of NOA, Dr Garba Abari, at the event, said ignorance and trust gap exist in the power sector.
Stressing that the new deal will address the situation, Abari added: “There is a huge amount of ignorance in our populace on how things are done, especially in technical areas, like electricity supply. To make citizens aware and be part of the conversations, they need to be sensitised and mobilised.”