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Corpses rot in Army mortuaries as DisCos cut off electricity over N42bn debt

Corpses in mortuaries within some barracks of the Nigerian Army are rotting away over power outage. Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Taoreed Lagbaja, disclosed…

Corpses in mortuaries within some barracks of the Nigerian Army are rotting away over power outage.

Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Taoreed Lagbaja, disclosed this when he visited Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, to seek intervention.

Recall that the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) had given 83 MDAs in its franchise area a 10-day notice to pay the N47.1bn debt they owed the company or risk disconnection.

Aso Rock was listed among the debtors, but President Bola Tinubu waded in immediately after the notice was issued.

The president had ordered that the debt be cleared.

During his visit to the minister, Lagbaja regretted that some barracks and cantonments have been in darkness since January.

“Debt owed is loaded on the meter, so no matter the amount of credit we put, the meters pick it automatically… Corpses in the Army mortuaries are decomposing and the owners of the corpses are protesting,” he said.

He further stated that it was impossible for the Army to raise funds to pay the entire debt and solicited for liquidation as was done in 2005 by the then President.

He assured the Minister of the army’s unflinching support towards developing intelligence strategies in curbing the menace of electricity infrastructure vandalism.

Adelabu assured the Nigerian Army of his readiness to dialogue with DisCos to find a way out of the problem.

According to the Special Adviser, Strategic Communication and Media Relations to the minister, Bolaji Tunji, Adelabu reiterated the importance of liquidity and funding in the sector, adding if the debts could not be written off, he would intervene in order to restructure the debt payment if there was assurance of regular payment by the Nigerian Army.

He further revealed that debt owed by distribution and Generating Companies (GENCOs) is not the only challenge bedevilling the Power sector, adding that vandalization of power infrastructure which often lead to National grid collapse, theft, inefficiency in billing and collection process, poor metering gap, liquidity, shortage in gas supply, transmission stations being blown up with explosives in volatile areas are all part of the issues being experienced in the Power sector.

“The fundamental issues in the power sector value chain could be traced back to the last 50 years and a government which is barely eight months cannot use a magic wand to proffer solution. There is a saying that you won’t know what is happening in Rome until you get to Rome,” he said.

The Minister who acknowledged that Power outages is not peculiar to army barracks but a national issue said the DISCOs and GENCOs are profit-oriented organizations.

“We can only plead with them to adopt a repayment plan on a monthly basis instead of embedding the whole debt in their meter,” he said.

While encouraging the Army to continue assisting the Ministry in safeguarding power facilities across the nation, the Minister pledged to seek collaboration for the Army through any of the development partners for installation of Solar PVs and Battery Energy Storage System(BESS) as alternative power supply in Army barracks and cantonments.
Earlier, the Chief of Army Staff disclosed that the main reason for the visit was to discuss the consequences of the power outage in army formations and the way forward.

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