The Nigerian Army and the federal ministries of labour, communications and health are defaulting on their respective electricity bills, as they owe N11.12bn to the power distribution company supplying them electricity.
Among the Federal Government establishments, it was learnt that the armed forces owed N11bn in electricity bill, out of which the Nigerian Army alone owed about N6bn. Saturday PUNCH learnt that the ministries of labour, communications and health had incurred a combined debt of N120m as of Wednesday this week.
The Ministry of Labour is headed by Dr. Chris Ngige, while the ministries of communications and health are headed by Mr. Adebayo Shittu and Prof. Isaac Adewoye respectively.
Officials at the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, as well as those at the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company also stated that the Nigeria Police Force had failed to clear the backlog of power debts that it owed the AEDC.
“As of Wednesday, three ministries owed us about N120m. They include Ministry of Communications, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Labour. But out of the N11bn being owed us by the armed forces, N6bn is owed by the Nigerian Army alone,” a senior official at the AEDC told our correspondent in Abuja on Friday.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “The Navy is the most reliable security agency in the Nigerian Armed Forces, with respect to the payment of electricity bills. The police owe us so much money. They are now trying to pay up but the backlog of debt they owe is huge.”
On other federal agencies defaulting on the payment of their electricity bills, the official said, “Abuja airport is now doing better when compared to what it used to be before it was disconnected by AEDC. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation does not owe us; it pays promptly.”
When asked to explain why many ministries and agencies at the federal secretariat in Abuja had experienced blackouts for several weeks, another staff of the AEDC stated that the affected organisations were disconnected by the Disco.
The source said, “However, we did not disconnect the entire secretariat, but some of its wings. The Ministry of Finance is not affected because it pays its bills promptly. However, the ministries at the secretariat have a problem among themselves with respect to the power they receive.
“For instance, you will find out that in a block, there may be about four ministries connected to one (electricity) line. We may recognise just one as our customer. Now in most cases, the other ministries will make their own contributions to the customer we recognise as customer to go and pay since they are all on one line.
“But unfortunately, that ministry may not have its own money ready. Now it has collected from other agencies or ministries that share the same line with it but has not paid the money to AEDC. And when we go for disconnection of debtors, we will disconnect the three or four ministries together.”
Commenting on the development, the Executive Director, Association of National Electricity Distributors, an umbrella body for the Discos, Mr. Sunday Oduntan, confirmed that many ministries, departments and agencies of government owed power firms billions of naira of unpaid electricity bills.
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