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COAS Laments Corpses Decomposing In Army Mortuaries Due To Blackout

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COAS Laments Corpses Decomposing In Army Mortuaries Due To Blackout

The Minister of Power, Chief Adebayo Adekola Adelabu, has assured the Nigerian Army of his readiness to dialogue with distribution companies (DISCOs) to relieve the Nigerian Army of its electricity debt burden amounting to N42bn.

The Minister spoke on Thursday, Feb. 22, when the Chief of Army Staff (CAS), Lt. General Taoreed Abiodun Lagbaja, visited and appealed for his intervention over the debt burden. The Army Chief had described blackouts in army barracks and cantonments as security threats. Quoting the Minister, Special Adviser, Strategic Communication and Media Relations, Bolaji Tunji reiterated the importance of liquidity and funding in the sector, adding the debts could not be written off but the Minister would intervene in order to restructure the debt payment if there was assurance of regular payment by the Nigerian Army.

Adelabu further revealed that debt owed by distribution and generating companies (GENCOs) is not the only challenge bedevilling the power sector. He added that vandalization of power infrastructure, which often leads to national grid collapse, theft, inefficiency in billing and collection processes, poor metering gaps, liquidity, shortages in gas supply, and 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 that is barely eight months old cannot use a magic wand to propose a solution. There is a saying that you won’t know what is happening in Rome until you get there," he said.

The Minister, who acknowledged that power outages are not peculiar to army barracks but a national issue, said the DISCOs and GENCOs are profit-oriented organizations, and “we can only plead with them to adopt a repayment plan on a monthly basis instead of embedding the whole debt in their meter.

While encouraging the Army to continue assisting the Ministry in safeguarding power facilities across the nation, the Minister pledged to seek collaboration with the Army through any of the development partners for the installation of solar PVs and battery energy storage systems (BESS) as an 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.

Lagbaja regretted that some barracks and cantonments have been in total blackout since January.

He said, “Debt owed is loaded on the meter, so no matter the amount of credit we put, the meters pick it up automatically.

"Corpses in the Army mortuaries are decomposing, and the owners of the corpses are protesting.”

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

He assured the Minister of the Army’s unflinching support for developing intelligence strategies to curb the menace of electricity infrastructure vandalism.

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