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Consumer advocacy, key to driving power sector reforms- Igali

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FORMER Nigerian Ambassador to the Scandinavian countries of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark Godknows Igali has drummed support for consumer advocacy in the power sector, stressing that factoring in the consumer is key to driving reforms in the industry.

Igali, who also worked as a federal permanent secretary in the Ministry of Power and Water Resources, gave this information at his official visit to the Nigerian Consumer Protection Network members in Abuja. The visit was part of stakeholders’ engagement to deepen reforms in Nigeria’s power sector.

He explained that in the power sector value chain, consumer satisfaction must not be neglected as it was an important part of the sector’s development.

“Everybody in the power value chain is affected as a consumer. I salute your courage in pushing issues about the consumers at the front burner for dialogue. I hope that those still in service would be willing to listen to your brilliant ideas geared towards consumer satisfaction in the power sector.”

Igali stressed the need to do country comparison and experience sharing alongside coumtries such as Brazil, India, Egypt, and Turkey. He noted that understudying what they had done differently to stabilise their power sectors would enable Nigeria to benchmark itself on some of the reforms going on in Nigeria.

“Sanusi at the helm of the affairs now at the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, (NERC) is the son of the sector and understands the sector very well. He’s very calm as a person and I know that when these   issues begin to come up, he will take appropriate measures in providing solutions to them.”Igali said.

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President of the  Consumer Protection Network Kunle Kola Olubiyo told The ICIR that the engagement of the stakeholders was to ensure that feedback from them assisted the government on its reforms post-privatisation.

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“The demand side of the coin is as important as the supply side. Lots of things happening in the sector post-privatisation is below expectations. Therefore, it is important to ensure the thriving of business of the power sector through peaceful engagement in order to add value to the power sector.”

“There are issues of tariff methodology, fiscals in the sector. We’ve got assurances from the government and we shall continue to engage them. The end-users must be prioritised and must give a voice to the consumers by frankly engaging with the stakeholders in the sector,” Olubiyo said.

He stressed that the government must provide policy directions, bearing in mind consumer satisfaction and a sector that worked for everybody.

“Most of the policies are loaded with vested interests and this is why we said the midterm review must be effected to break the monopoly and bring in the room for competition to drive power sector and deliver stranded powers to our homes at a fairly competitive price.”

Nigeria’s power sector has been bedevilled by serial problems post-privatisation. The Nigerian government still pays subsidy to close gaps in the generation, transmission and distribution value chain in the power sector.

The sector has liquidity issues prompting the government to pay over a N50billion monthly to bridge the shortfall and avoid possible shutdown of various power plants across the country.

Analysts believe that with the constant engagement of stakeholders, the power sector would deliver quality service to the people amid series of reforms currently ongoing to put the sector on the right path.

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