Ranging from services of government agencies, services of capitalists/monopolists, the education sector and even places of worship; all are engrossed in worldly ruse. As if Ayi Kwei Armah wrote The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born to describe Nigeria, there still are no signals yet as to
whether there will be any blissful union that will feed a prospective foetus for the birth of a ‘beautiful one’.
How we complain, for we encounter an unbroken existence of the ugly Methuselah that has refused to die! How we wish that the vast pool called Nigeria, could just for one day, experience the beautiful child, even if he would drop the next day! Or, isn’t Nigeria thoroughly hopeless and swamped in chronic stench? To use the road, you pay bribe. To get justice after a rape, you ‘motivate’ the police. To get a contract that you merit, you must ‘tip’. To get your pastor’s assistance in the church, you submit ‘noticeable offering’. Everything is monetized.
With what surfaces as the award winning, most organized monopoly of power scam, the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) schemes up
different phases of compulsory electricity tariff which sets irrational spending traps for all its consumers. On the impression that there’s no option to PHCN, electricity consumers pay outstanding bills for services not rendered and units not consumed. To enhance the swindler’s revenue, PHCN gave a facelift to its scam problem by introducing the digital consumption-reading meter, which will always fleece unsuspecting consumers of electricity. It is a luxury of fortune to be in the PHCN, especially if you are a Senior Manager Marketing (SMM), Service Manager (SM), Business Manager (BM) or you process and fix meters. On every new meter fixed, they get a share; on every threat to disconnect a customer, there’s unaccounted ‘reconnection fee’; on every disconnection, the customer makes a settlement before recovering his/her cables; on new meter procurement, the PHCN staff earn on the processing; on every job executed, they have a part It is a bonanza!
Here is a cursory examination of how the PHCN scam unfolds and spirals down:
STAGE ONE ESTIMATED BILLING AND TARIFFS
Billing registers as the first phase of extorting electricity consumers. PHCN scamming codes include R2 and R3 for Resident consumers; while, C2 and C3 are the ‘criminal’ codes for business users. The nature of the building determines the tariff to be billed. If it is a small shop with only a unit of bulb, it is a commercial place. A shop owner who only uses two bulbs and a ceiling fan are billed N7,000 monthly by ‘estimation’ on
C2 tariff plan.
STAGE TWO DISCONNECTION
Poor customers who delay in payment of the outrageous PHCN bill are disconnected. Yet after disconnection, bills still roll in for the period without connection. This causes the client to be forced to pay for reconnection in addition to the bills accumulated during the period without
connection. It is so dangerous to continue without connection to the scam.
STAGE THREE CUSTOMER COMPLAINTS
Displeased customers from schema level above are advised by the PHCN marketers to lodge complaints at the scam office, and that ultimately
leads the customer to where he gets real orientations on how to join the mainstream of the elites fraud system. At the scam office, client is advised to acquire prepaid meter so as to be charged based on consumption. Customer therefore slips into the trap of prepaid meter system.
STAGE FOUR PREPAID METER SCAM
To purchase a prepaid meter, a customer first pays N25,000 bank draft in favour of PHCN, while he continues to maintain the monthly bills.
The meter, paid for by the customer, is the property of PHCN regardless. Paying for the meter does not guarantee it would be given. There are thousands of customers who paid for this meter since 2007 and still have seen no signals yet, whether their meters will be delivered tomorrow. Hence, a client that desperately needs to have his meter unit pays extra N10,000 as ‘processing fee’, totalling N35,000 or N40,000 in most cases.
In their general nature, tolerant Nigerians welcomed the blinking meter device and absorbed the explanations given by the epileptic power company. The meter will supposedly deduct the recharged units based on consumption. However, there are hidden service charges of either N20 daily for individual resident phase users on the prepaid meter, and N40 daily charge for single phase commercial users and N51.70 for three-phase commercial users on the prepaid meter. Whether there’s power supply or not, resident consumers pay averagely N600 every month. In this system, if a consumer visits the PHCN meter card recharging office with N1,000, the money is treated as follows:
Deduct N20 multiplied by the number of days from last recharge
Obtain the balance from the above to issue new recharge units.
Hence, if Mr. Eze paid N1,000 as a resident user and it is already 50 days that he last recharged, he will have no units recharged (N20 daily access fee since last recharge x 50 days). He has to return home to get extra funds for a new recharge.
As if procuring the meter ends the story of billing, “Hell no!” says PHCN. Bills continue to roll in after meter procurement. The bill has to be paid to the last kobo before it would be closed.
The long-existing scam PHCN inherited from NEPA is giving out questionable bills even where the transformer serving the whole area has
been faulty for over six months. For those who have procured the meter, it translates to a monthly N1,200 for resident users and N1,551 for business users on three phases without a blink at all. Consumers without meters pay are billed a monthly N4, 750 for resident users and N7, 000 for little shop ‘commercial’ users on estimation. Are consumers not supposed to pay for services rendered to them?
With the planned hike in tariff by the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) in January 2012, coupled with the proposed fuel
subsidy removal and other inhumane, anti-masses government treatments, if the biblical interpretation that Hell is characterized by gnashing of teeth is something to go by, Nigeria will be a perfect symbol of Hell.