By Hussein Yahaya, Simon E. Sunday (Abuja), Zahraddeen Y. Shuaibu, Salim U. Ibrahim (Kano), Maryam Ahmadu-Suka (Kaduna), Abdullateef Aliyu (Lagos), Amina Abdullahi (Yola) & Kabiru Matazu (Maiduguri)
Amid the increasingly hot weather and ongoing Ramadan fast, electricity consumers are groaning as the already poor power supply gets even more epileptic across the country.
Although Nigerians enjoyed relatively improved power supply in recent times, the situation nosedived a few days ago with the onset of the heat period, subjecting people to discomfort and sleepless nights.
Findings by our correspondents revealed that residents are already demanding explanations from the electricity distribution companies (DisCos).
Residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nasarawa and Niger states have expressed worry over long periods of power outages in parts of Abuja, especially as the Easter holiday sets in.
Mr Amos Okon, a resident of Mararaba town in Nasarawa State, said since last week, the power supply situation had become bad.
“We had no power supply from Saturday to Monday, and when it was restored, the voltage was low,” he said.
However, multiple days of outages were the lot in parts of Ado, another town in Nasarawa, near Abuja. In the Karu and Jikwoyi areas of Abuja, epileptic supply was evident. John Clement of Abuja’s Gwarinpa District reported severe tripping during the weekend, especially during a rainstorm.
A resident of Gwagwalada, Hajiya Maryam Atinuke, said for the past two weeks, the town which is noted for its excessive heat, had been witnessing a deteriorating power supply and that there was no explanation from the AEDC. She described the situation as inhuman and insensitive.
“For God’s sake, you know how terrible Gwagwalada is in terms of heat and we Muslims are in a fasting period, yet the company is doing this to us. It is unfair,” she said.
Mr Samson Tabaya, a resident of Bwari, said the situation became worse in the last two weeks, noting that they hardly got up to three hours of supply in his area.
“Sometimes in the evening, I used to pity our fasting Muslim neighbours. You can come and see how they will be searching for cold drinks to break their fast, it is unfortunate,’’ he said.
Our correspondents report that the power situation is the same in Kuje, Abaji, Dutsen-Alhaji and other satellite towns.
In Kano, poor power supply has badly affected residents and businesses.
Rakiya Idris, a resident of Sallari said due to the lack of electricity to power her water pumps, she hardly gets cold drinks despite having an inverter.
Also, Yusuf Dauda, a resident of Dorayi, lamented that for his one-year-old daughter, once the rechargeable fan stops, her sleep stops and thus everyone has to stay awake.
On his part, Labaran Ayuba, who sells cold drinks, said, he is badly affected by the lack of electricity because he hardly sells his stock.
The situation is not different in Kaduna as residents of Malali, Millennium City, Unguwan Rimi and other parts of the state lamented over the worsening power supply across the state.
They appealed to the federal government to grant licenses to other companies to break the monopoly enjoyed by the DisCos.
Our correspondent gathered that residents of Millennium City and Unguwan Rimi were left in darkness for four days.
The management of Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company attributed the outage to a technical fault on its 33KV water works feeder. A resident of the affected area, Hajiya Bilkisu Ahmed, who owns a frozen foods store, told our correspondent that she lost over N100,000 due to the outage.
She said she was forced to sell her stock three times less for fear of losing the whole purchase. Another resident, Malam Haruna Mainama, who owns a meat shop said he was forced to close down his business until power is restored.
In parts of Lagos, many residents covered by both the Ikeja Electric Distribution Company (Ikeja Electric) and Eko Electricity Distribution Company have been experiencing epileptic supply.
Findings by our correspondent revealed that the distribution companies have been rationing supply in recent times over low supply.
Checks at some parts of Ojodu, Ojodu-Abiodun, and Ogba showed that power supply has been on and off.
Many areas on Lagos Island, Mile-2 and Ijesha have been experiencing epileptic supply due to what the Eko DisCo called a faulty breaker at Itire TCN.
This affected feeders in Onitire, Olowu Odo-Eran Adeshina and Smith.
As of yesterday, the temperature in Maiduguri was 43c, and many fasting Muslims relied on Yola Electricity Distribution Company (YEDC) for electricity supply.
Residents in Bulumkutu, one of the less privileged locations of the town, accused the distribution company of neglecting and giving much attention to highbrow areas.
Residents at Legacy Estate, one of the highbrow places in Maiduguri, complained that since the fasting period started, the electricity distribution company began to cut light and subject them to untold hardship.
Adamawa residents have also been thrown into worry with the epileptic supply of power which has affected their businesses and other day-to-day activities.
The inconsistency in the supply of electricity means that small businesses, such as barbing salons, bakeries, graphics designers and printers rely on power generators to function.
A resident, Hauwa Kumshe, said the worsening power supply in the heat period was making her lose focus on work.
Clerics accuse DisCos of sabotage
Clerics who spoke on the issue at their Tafseer queried the intention of the distribution companies with the power outage getting worse during the holy month of Ramadan.
They accused the electricity distribution companies of deliberate sabotage of fasting Muslims.
Speaking on the issue, Sheikh Umar Garba Ibrahim Dokaji advised the companies to fear Almighty Allah else they will begin to pray against them.
He said it was worrisome that the power shortage was happening only during the month of Ramadan when the light is badly needed by people.
“Why did we get light before Ramadan and now it is not stable? We used to have eight hour supply. We know there are problems here and there, but why is it that we don’t have even one hour of light now?” he queried.
Another cleric from Kano, Sheikh Yunusa Muhammad, wondered why the power shortage happens only during Ramadan.
“This is not the first time we are witnessing this challenge. In some festivities like New Year and so on, there used to be light for many days. But in Ramadan, the reverse is the case. If you are doing this deliberately, God Almighty is watching you,” he said.
Also speaking, another cleric from Funtua, Sheikh Muhammad Sulaiman, said “This is happening every year, and we will never stop talking until the issue is addressed.”
Similarly, a former commissioner for religious affairs in Zamfara State, Dr Muhammad Tukur Sani Jangebe, called on all stakeholders to address the problem as a matter of urgency.
The Principal Manager, Corporate Communication, Yola Electricity Distribution Company (YEDC), Onyekachi Kingsley, in a statement released on Monday evening, attributed the drop in supply “to the low allocation from the national grid.”
“We are working tenaciously to make sure this is improved so that our esteemed customers can have better supply,” he stated.
Also, the Head, Corporate Communication, Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company, Abdulazeez Abdullahi, when contacted, blamed poor supply from the national grid for the situation.
Today, for instance, we only received an average of 149 megawatts (MW) which is greatly inadequate for distribution in Kaduna, Sokoto, Zamfara and Kebbi states. It was around 159mw yesterday. For this reason, load shedding becomes inevitable.
“Secondly, efficient supply even when generation improves is dependent on prompt payments from customers for energy consumed. Situations where customers refuse to pay out rightly or pay a part or skip payments hampers adequate supply.
“Customers must take up the responsibility to pay bills in full to guarantee adequate power supply. We are groaning under a huge debt burden from all segments of our customer base. This has forced us to disconnect non-paying customers.”
In his defence, a spokesman for Kano Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO), Sani Bala, said the epileptic power supply was not peculiar to the company.
He said the existing agreement with the TCN was for KEDCO to be given 300mw daily.
“But lately, we have not been getting that and today (Monday) we were given 150mw. Out of this, there is a bilateral arrangement with Niger Republic and we are left with 140mw to distribute with the three states (Kano, Jigawa and Katsina) which is not enough and it is the reason we are doing load shedding.”
He also denounced the allegation that it was sabotage against Muslims fasting, noting that the problem is recurrent during heat season because the entire country is dependent on thermal and hydro (which is water-based).
He explained that the water level is very low during the heat period and not sufficient to power the turbines.
Also responding, the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) franchise area, the Chief Market Officer, Mr Donald Etim, confirmed random low load allocation lately on the national grid.
Etim said, “We have developed a working strategic approach to managing it; there have been no major outages as such that we didn’t give immediate attention to.”
He however said there may have been dispersed pockets of occasional outages in a couple of customer clusters but that they received attention.