An inquiry has uncovered a potential systematic misuse of public funds earmarked for electricity bill payments by federal government employees, particularly between 2021 and 2023,leadership reports.

Official documentation has revealed a troubling pattern: more than 34 ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs), including the Nigerian Army based in Abuja, were allegedly encouraged to bypass allocated budgets. Consequently, significant unpaid electricity bills, exceeding N10.01 billion, have accumulated despite specific provisions in annual national budgets.

This diversion has led to a concerning fiscal deficit burdening both the current administration and future ones.

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Earlier this year, the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) publicly stated that the Presidential Villa and 85 MDAs collectively owed a staggering N47 billion for electricity supplied. It issued a stern warning of disconnection if the debts, particularly the Nigerian army’s outstanding N12 billion, remained unpaid.

This investigation obtained budgets from the Presidential Villa and 34 MDAs, shedding light on the allocation of revenue for electricity charges. Notably, electricity payment ranks as a first-line charge in the recurrent component of the budget.

Among the notable debtors, the Presidential Villa owes N923 million; FCT Ministry, N7.5 billion; Ministry of Finance, N5.4 billion; Niger State Governor – Abuja Liaison Office, N3.4 billion; Ministry of State Petroleum, N2.1 billion; Ministry of Education, N1.8 billion, and CBN Governor, N1.5 billion.

The list of indebted entities is extensive, including the Nigeria Police Force (N1.3 billion), the Kogi State Governor – Abuja Liaison Office (N1.3 billion), Ministry of Health (N1.1 billion), and the Clerk of National Assembly (N1.09 billion).

The investigation also revealed that despite substantial budgetary allocations, the Nigerian Army remains both the highest recipient of funds and one of the biggest debtors. For example, Army Formations and Barracks received a significant N4,525,362,215 billion for electricity bills alone between 2021 and 2023, yet there’s little evidence of actual expenditure on this item.

Similarly, the Presidential Villa, despite receiving N745,793,832 million for electricity payment over three years, failed to settle its N923 million debt to the power company accumulated over seven years. The Nigeria Police Force, with N1.3 billion in arrears, also failed despite receiving N952.975 million for electricity payments.

Other entities, such as the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and the headquarters of the Nigeria Immigration Service, despite relatively low electricity consumption, failed to settle their bills despite significant budgetary allocations, raising suspicions of possible misappropriation.

The Federal Ministry of Education, with a budget allocation of N67.3 million for electricity over three years, is yet to clear its N1.82 billion debt to AEDC. Similar instances of indebtedness exist across various MDAs, sparking concerns about fund diversion.

This disclosure underscores the urgent need for accountability and transparency in government expenditure.

In another development, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has initiated a nationwide shutdown of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and all Distribution Companies (DISCOs) today in response to the recent electricity tariff hike. The NLC, along with the Trade Union Congress (TUC), denounces the tariff increase as unjust, a misuse of power, and a violation of public trust.

The organized labour demands an immediate reversal of the tariff hike, cessation of discriminatory practices in electricity consumer categorization, and restoration of statutory regulations governing the electricity industry.

A memo issued by the NLC to its affiliates calls for mass mobilization to picket the offices of NERC and the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC). The picketing, directed by the Central Working Committee (CWC), is set to occur today, with the Labour House in Abuja serving as the convergence point.

The NLC expresses confidence in the success of the picketing while reaffirming its commitment to the welfare of Nigerian workers and the general populace.


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