The Federal Government on Tuesday revealed that Niger and Benin Republics, Nigeria’s neighbours, owe the country a total of N1.2bn for electricity supplied.
A statement by Presidential Spokesman, Garba Shehu, revealed that while “Niger owes only USD16 million”, “Benin Republic owes USD4 million, adding up to the naira equivalent of about N1.2bn”.
This is just as Federal Government put the actual cost of electricity generated within 2018-2019 by all the electricity generation companies in Nigeria at about N1.2 trillion ($4 billion).
Presidency’s statement which is a reaction to report by a national daily newspaper (not BusinessDay) said, “It is most disappointing that sensationalism has dominated the thinking and ethos of institutions that citizens look up to with trust, confidence and reliability”.
Presidency said the said newspaper’s Monday edition checks all the boxes “in terms of an abject failure to honour these time-tested traditions with its news piece: ‘NIGERIA EXPORTS USD81.48bn ELECTRICITY ON CREDIT AS COUNTRY’S BLACKOUT PERSISTS”. It said the headline is, to say the least, hyperbolic and terribly misleading.
“Apart from the fact that the figure quoted is far from accurate, out-dated and therefore not reflective of the current reality, the overall cost of power generated and sold by Nigeria in the period covered by report is not anywhere close to what was mentioned by the paper,” Shehu said.
He also revealed that 90 percent of the electricity generated was distributed and consumed by consumers across the 11 electricity distribution companies in the country.
“Power exported to Niger, Benin and Togo based on Multilateral Energy Sales Agreement with the Government of Nigeria is on the basis that they would not dam the waters that feed our major power plants in Kainji, Shiroro and Jebba.
“As of the last review in 2019, the amount of indebtedness to all three customers stood at $69 million, subsequent upon which several payments were made to NBET. Much of this has been repaid by the debtor nations,” he said.
The statement noted that the “essence of said bilateral agreements, by which we give them power and they do not build dams on the River Niger, means that Nigeria and her brotherly neighbours had avoided the unfolding situation of the Nile River between the sovereign states of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt”.
“In the future, we advise the newspaper to seek clarity from the market operator which is the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).This process of fact checking only improves your standing in the public arena,” the statement said.