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Corpses decomposing in our mortuaries over power outage, Army chief cries out

The minister expressed his readiness to intervene in order to restructure the debt payment if there was assurance of regular payment by the army.

Chief of Army Staff ( COAS), Maj.-Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja. [Twitter;NA]

The information is contained in a statement signed by Bolaji Tunji, a media aide to the Minister of Power.

The statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja, quoted Lagbaja as saying this when he visited the Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu.

His mission was to seek intervention in the N42 billion debt owed to the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC).

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AEDC had given 83 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in its franchise area a 10-day notice to pay the debt they owed the company or risk disconnection.

“Corpses in the army mortuaries are decomposing and the owners of the corpses are protesting,” the army chief said.

He said that the main reason for the visit was to discuss the consequences of the power outage in army formations and the way forward.

According to him, some barracks and cantonments have been in total blackout since January.

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

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“It is impossible for the army to raise funds to pay the entire debt. Therefore, we solicit for liquidation as was done in 2005 by the then president."

Lagbaja also assured the minister of the army’s unflinching support towards developing intelligence strategies in curbing the menace of electricity infrastructure vandalism.

Responding, the minister assured the army chief of his readiness to dialogue with the Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) to relieve the army of its electricity debt burden.

Adelabu, who emphasised the importance of liquidity and funding in the power sector, added that debts could not be written off.

The minister expressed his readiness to intervene in order to restructure the debt payment if there was assurance of regular payment by the army.

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According to him, power outages are not peculiar to army barracks but a national issue as the DIsCos and GenCos are profit-oriented organisations.

“We can only plead with them to adopt a repayment plan on a monthly basis instead of embedding the whole debt in their meter,’’ he said.

Adelabu said that debt owed by DisCos and Generating Companies (GENCOs) was not the only challenge bedevilling the power sector.

“Vandalism of power infrastructure often leads to national grid collapse.

“Other concerns include theft, inefficiency in billing and collection process, poor metering gap, liquidity and shortage in gas supply.

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“Transmission stations being blown up with explosives in volatile areas are all part of the issues being experienced in the sector," he said.

The minister said that the fundamental issues in the power sector value chain could be traced back to the last 50 years, saying that the government, which is barely eight months old, cannot use a magic wand to proffer a solution.

While encouraging the army to continue assisting the ministry in safeguarding power facilities across the nation, the minister pledged to seek collaboration with them.

He said that the collaboration would be through any of the development partners for the installation of solar Photovoltaics (PVs) and Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) as alternative power supplies in army barracks and cantonments.

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