Uzoigwe, who is Group Leader, Generation, Sahara Group, said the Army, Navy and Airforce are the major debtors. He called on the DisCos to collect their money to stay in business, adding that failure of the firms to recover the debts would further affect their operations.
Uzoigwe, who delivered a paper entitled: ‘The present state of the privatised electricity business in Nigeria’ at the On-Grid Energy Summit organised by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in Lagos, said electricity generation and distribution is a serious business and that no firm is ready to run its business at a loss.
He said the federal agencies and ministries that were owing the firms needed not complain of power failure, arguing that it was not normal for the DisCos to provide electricity to customers, who pay their bills promptly.
Uzoigwe said military and police maltreat officials of power firms on debt-recovery duties, which he described as unfortunate.
He said: “The Ministries, Departments and Agencies owe the DisCos N80billion in form of bills and other charges. Anywhere I can say N80billion is being owed the energy distribution companies by the government agencies and others and I ‘m ready to defend it. Whenever we send our boys to recover debts owed the DisCos, the debtors use police to maltreat them. They lock the boys up.
“As a distributor, what business do I have supplying power to Army or Navy barracks that refused to pay their bills? Such debtors need not complain if they are denied electricity supply. As a matter of fact, it does not make economic sense to continue to serve debtors that appear unrepentant.
“The power distribution companies have kilowatts of electricity they supply a given area or location within a period. If a DisCos supplies, for example, Surulere 70 kilowatts of power out of 100 kilowatts budgeted for the area in a month and the residents pay for the 70 kilowatts. What is going to happen to the remaining 30 kilowatts? The firm cannot return the remaining 30 kilowatts. But it is a good decision if the DisCos supply an industrial layout that do not only consume the 100 kilowatts, but pay for the power.’’
Uzoigwe likened the problems in the sector to a recurrent decimal, which comes up always, stressing that what people see outside the power industry is not the true picture of the happenings inside it.
He explained that many of the critical problems plaguing the sector were hidden, because they are not known to many Nigerians.
Uzoigwe accused Nigerians of playing what he described as a ‘blaming game’, arguing that they apportion blames wrongly.