(The Crest exclusive)
By Shola Oshunkeye
The Group Managing Director of ASCON Oil Company Limited, Barrister Grace Olowofoyeku, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to criminalize the so-called estimated billings by electricity distribution companies, DISCOs, saying it is not only killing businesses but also sending many Nigerians to untimely graves.
This is one of the high points of an exclusive interview the ASCON Oil boss granted The Crest recently at the company’s headquarters in Victoria Island, Lagos.
The Edo State-born business mogul said the unusual billing system by the DISCOs is suffocating businesses in the country as they have had to close down ostensibly because of the outrageous electricity bills they were forced to pay.
She urged President Muhammadu Buhari to move swiftly to criminalize estimated billing. Doing so, she said, would help the president actualize the pledge he made to Nigerians, on Democracy Day, which his government planned to take 100 million citizens out of poverty.
“Nigeria is about the only country in this continent where power consumption is estimated,” she told The Crest during the exclusive interview. “For some selfish reason, some people just make metering seems like rocket science. Estimated billing is criminal and it is amazing that government is watching as the electricity distribution companies as they continue to milk Nigerians and businesses illegally.
“Estimated billing is killing. It is too much. And you want to get prepaid meter, they won’t give you. If this is not corruption, what is corruption? Refusal to give prepaid meters is corruption; and government, through the EFCC, should treat it as such.”
To underscore the destructive effect of ‘estimated billing’ businesses, the ASCON GMD said her company may consider closing down its mega station in Lekki, Lagos.
“I will illustrate that (evil effect of estimated billing) with my Admiralty station in Lekki,” Olowofoyeku continued. “Every month, we pay N2 million for electricity. What are we selling? Yes, in estimated bill.
“And in this place, our head office, we pay N600, 000 per month. Is this place (the headquarters) a manufacturing company? What machines do we operate here to attract N600, 000 per month? None.
“As far as I am concerned, that is oppressive. What business are we doing to generate the income that would enable us pay N2 million for power in just one station, in a month? And we have 52 stations to service. What are we making in our Admiralty station to be paying N2million every month for light?
“If the government wants us to grow, if the government really wants businesses to grow, if this government really wants businesses to help take the declared 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years as the President promised in his Democracy Day broadcast, then, it must formulate policies that will help businesses grow. It is the business that grows that employs.”
This is just a tip of the iceberg. Make it a date with The Crest tomorrow as we serialize the two-hour explosive interview.