Two meter installation schemes are said to be running at same time in most electricity distribution zones including the Port Harcourt zone of Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Cross River managed by the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED).
One scheme, according to findings, is for a fee while the other is not. In the Port Harcourt zone, according to the PHED, the one paid for is the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) which was initiated by the Disco when the issue of estimated billing got to a scandalous level and customers demanded for meters.
The free one is said to be the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP) which is a FG scheme involving six million meters starting however with a mere one million units. Both however run concurrently, meaning that a customer would either apply for meter under MAP or under NMMP.
BusinessDay gathered that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) recently informed the public that the two metering schemes (MAP and NMMP) were to run concurrently. PHED wondered why the notion of selling FG’s meters still persisted despite the clarifications by the regulatory agency. The company denied giving any secret account number to collect the unauthorised payments for the FG meters.
Two snags stand out; One is that the meters are on loan to Discos from the CBN. Do the lenders not expect their money back, even if it’s from the back door? The other is that the delay by the FG before rolling their scheme out forced the Discos to roll out different schemes to solve the deteriorating problem earlier. Did the FG not realize that it would cause confusion? Why did the FG not do a buy-back by buying off the meters acquired by the Discos so that only one scheme would run?
How come the NGO that accused the Discos of selling FG meters did not find out that two schemes were running and that the FG was liable? How was a customer want to wait for the free meter while the one for sale was starring him in the face? If anybody deserved some blaming, it’s the FG. Besides, the same FG has refused to disclose how they planned to recover the loans if not by charging for the meters. If it was intended to be truly free to the Discos, why was it not called a grant, but a loan/
There is much the eye cannot meet in the MAP vs NMMP schemes. The FG needs to come clear on this and save hapless Discos that have been bearing the brunt of the nation’s collective failings in the power sector.
Now, the management of PHED has come under fierce accusations of selling the NMMP meters but it has insisted that such meters were totally free. According to a statement by the Ag Manager, Corporate Communications, Chioma Aninwe, the PHED explained in Port Harcourt Monday, 22 March 2021, that whereas the MAP is to any applicant, the NMMP is done zone by zone. The company moves to a zone in any of the four states and gives every household a FG prepaid meter.
Individuals, however, who may not want to wait for the free issue may apply for the MAP meter issue and pay for it. The company said it flagged off the NMMP at its corporate headquarters on November 9, 2020 where the CEO, Henry Ajagbawa, a fellow of Chartered Institute of Accountants (FFCA) publicly disclosed that 79,100 units of meter had been earmarked for PHED from the FG under the National Mass Metering Programme for Phase Zero.
The PRO recalled at the ceremony, the CEO also revealed that the meters under the NNMP were free, but however, made it clear that given the number allotted to PHED, not everyone would benefit from the phase zero as the Disco had over 850,000 metering gap across its franchise areas.
She stated that at present, unmetered customers in their zone were being metered under the FG metering scheme or NMMP in line with FG’s approved schedule. She said this in reaction to what she called unverified claims, and insisted that there was no single claim by any customer that fees were charged on NMMP units.