Industrialists in Aba, Abia State, have risen in stout defence of Aba Power Ltd which was disconnected from the national grid last Friday by the Federal Government-owned Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) over an N896m debt owed as fees to government agencies in the power sector.
The disconnection has paralysed socioeconomic life in Abia State, adversely affecting the security apparatuses that depend on constant electricity for effective operations, as well as hospitals, medical laboratories, factories, and government establishments.
But rising today from an emergency meeting of its executive committee held in a prominent hotel in the city, the Association of Indigenous Manufacturers in Aba (AIMA) remarked that “Aba Power has been behaving most responsibly, as it has since last September raised power supply to the Aba Ringfence from 25Megawatts to 80MW in February, paid N500m to the Niger Delta Power Holding Company last month, N50m to the Market Operator the same month, constructed 1,500 kilometres of overhead wires, built four new brand substations, refurbished three old ones inherited from the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria, built world-class tunular poles, and brought back two of its three General Electric turbines for power generation from Texas in the United States where they have gone for scheduled retrofitting”.
Speaking through its chairman, Dr Gregory Nwankwo, the indigenous manufacturers praised Geometric Power, the Aba Power parent company, for building the 188-Megawatt power plant in Osisiona Industrial Layout to supply electricity to Aba power which will be commissioned within two months.
Declared Dr Nwankwo: “It is difficult to process why Aba Power, Nigeria’s 12th and newest electricity distribution firm which began operations only last year, was selected for this treatment whereas the older ones that commenced operations in 2013 and owe much higher amounts, despite huge Federal Government subsidies, are still receiving supplies”.
“The TCN operates the sole transmission network in the country and should show a greater sense of responsibility in discharging its duties, all the more so given the fact that it is a Federal Government enterprise and the fact that electricity is vital for our very existence in the modern age”.
The industrialists urged the TCN to borrow a leaf from the Federal Government which rather than allow any part of the country to be thrown into darkness has been subsiding the power distribution companies, even though they are private sector companies.
Criticising a situation where manufacturers are compelled to self-generate power at N830 per litre of diesel which escalates production cost enormously, Nwankwo remarked that the Aba Power’s disconnection from the national grid “can only worsen the nation’s economic crisis”.
The manufacturers described as premeditated and discriminatory the action against Aba Power which has been providing electricity to the Aba Ring-fenced Area comprising nine out of the 17 local government areas in Abia State, since February, 2022, though it took over effective management only six months later when it was allowed to collect money from customers who pay monthly electricity bills.
“The TCN wrote a letter to Aba Power on April 19, 2023”, recalled Nwankwo, “giving it 30 business days to settle its debt, but instructed the Market Operator, Dr A E Ajeh, to switch it off within a few hours.
“Both the TCN and the Market Operator owe the nation an explanation as to why a new firm which has not received a kobo subsidy from the government, unlike the other 11 distribution companies which have been receiving billions of naira subsidy, should be subjected to this treatment which has thrown a major section of Nigeria reputed for high industrial production into indefinite darkness”.
The association implored its members and other customers of the utility owing Aba Power to pay up.
It, in addition, urged those who can afford to pay in advance “since we can always be refunded or be given energy credit like customers who pay for prepaid meters.
“ The people and government of Abia State have a duty to make Aba Power succeed despite many man-made odds”.