Nigeria’s capital, Abuja and other states like Nasarawa, Kaduna, Kogi, Niger and part of Edo state have been plunged into darkness following industrial action by electricity workers.
The strike by National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) meant that these states that receive electricity supply from the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) became paralytic.
Chronicle NG reports that more motorists and residents were seen at fuel stations across Abuja as many resorted to generators.
While the AEDC office was practically deserted in the early hour of today, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) said available bulk power meant for the DisCo could not be delivered as power evacuation from injection substations across AEDC franchise area has been disrupted.
It was gathered that the strike action was necessitated by pension-related issues, liabilities, non-release of intervention fund by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and others.
Workers were prevented from entering the facility as residents await the intervention of the Minister of Power, Abubakar Aliyu to provide at least temporary succor.
Nigeria’s power sector was privatised in 2013 but efforts to decentralise power distribution is yet to yield dividends.
The power sector, aside from failing to perform, has been in financial crisis, requiring perpetual intervention funds from the government.
Last year, CBN directed Deposit Money Banks to take charge of the collection of electricity bill payments.
A circular signed by Hassan Bello, director of banking supervision had linked the move to the recommendation of the Power Sector Coordination Working Group to improve payment discipline in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI).
Distribution Companies (DisCos) are responsible for the sector’s revenue collection. While there was clamour for an increase in tariff, the sector’s inability to improve on the collection and reduce losses, a basic part of DisCos Key Performance Indicators, as well as inability to make remittance to the Bulk Electricity Trading Company almost grounded it.
Before and after the account escrow, CBN has launched a series of interventions in the power sector but there were indications that the existing ownership crisis in the utility company has been affecting the company.