It was learnt that though discussions were ongoing as regards its settlement, the debt had continued to pile up over the years since the power sector was privatised in November 2013.
Power distribution companies had disclosed that the humongous debt had put severe financial strain on the books of Discos, impacting negatively on their operations.
Nigeria has 11 power distribution companies. The firms emerged after the unbundling of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria into successor generation, transmission and distribution companies in November 2013.
Electricity produced by power generation companies is evacuated by the Transmission Company of Nigeria to the 11 Discos, who distribute the product by selling it to end-users for revenue generation for the power value chain.
But the Discos over time have been complaining of the failure of some end-users to pay their electricity bills, particularly ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal Government.
The Discos, under the aegis of the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors, stated that the indebtedness of MDAs to the power sector in terms of unpaid electricity bills was now in excess of N90bn.
The Executive Director, Research and Advocacy, Sunday Oduntan, told our correspondent that the indebtedness of MDAs had lingered and that the unpaid bills had been increasing since November 2013.
He said, “All MDAs’ debt is in excess of N90bn and the military is part of that. We came onboard in 2013 and since then, how much has been paid by the MDAs?
“There was a time when a former minister of power said they (government) had concluded arrangement on how to settle the debt, but as I speak with you, the bills are still there unpaid. Since privatisation, there have been issues around MDAs debt.”
Oduntan, however, noted that the current government had assured Discos that the debt would be settled, adding that discussions on how the bills would be cleared were ongoing.
He further expressed optimism that the discussion would yield desired results as the N90bn debt had stalled some level of progress in the country’s power supply business.
“However, I can confirm that the current government is working now to sort out the MDAs debt. It (government) has recognised that fact as well as the need for the debt to be paid,” the ANED’s executive stated.
He added, “It (government) is looking at how to structure the debt and I can confirm that this is ongoing.”
Asked to tell what some of the MDAs owe the power sector, Oduntan replied, “I cannot tell the amount that each particular ministry or agency owes now, but their lump debt is in excess of N90bn.”
Both international and local consumers of electricity produced in Nigeria often fall short of making payments as and when due for the electricity they consume.
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