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'Stop blackmailing FG,' Minister warns electricity companies

Fashola said the DisCos are being shoddy about the outstanding debts allegedly owed them by MDAs.

Babatunde Fashola in a file photo in Lagos  REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

Fashola said the companies are not being truthful about the outstanding debts allegedly owed them by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA).

In a statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday, November 22, by Mr Hakeem Bello, the Special Adviser, Communications to the minister, he warned DISCOs to desist from the act.

Fashola was reacting to the advertorial placed  by the Association of Electricity Distributing Companies (AEDC) on the debt owed  DisCos by MDAs.

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Fashola said government will not succumb to blackmail and will only pay verified debts.

Fashola also advised the DisCos to pursue the debt issue in their capacities as Discos and not under the aegis of any association.

He said that although the constitution guarantees freedom of association, the privatisation that results in the transfer of the distribution assets of power was not held between the Federal Government and any association.

According to the minster, the DisCos have so far failed to provide details of such debts for verification.

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Fashola said: "Let me say without any equivocation that government will not succumb to the blackmail, at least not the Federal Government of Nigeria."

He said that government has provided an online platform where it requested all the DisCos to submit details of their debts to that platform for government to verify it.

"I think that advert should have told Nigerians how many DisCos have complied with that instruction. That advert should also have told Nigerians how much was owed and to which DisCo.

"So while I respect the rights of association, indeed our constitution allows freedom of association.

"But the Nigeria government will not pay its debts estimated to be about N100 Billion under the aegis of an association.

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"That is not how to resolve debts, every DisCo knows how much power it supplied.

"Debts are not calculated by estimates. It is either N100 billion or less than N100 billion but not an estimate," the minister said.

He promised to respond on behalf of government to provide the other side of  information, any time the DisCos go to the public without giving government the full information.

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