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Blackout: COAS laments decomposing corpses in Army mortuaries

Speaking earlier, the Minister of Power assured the Nigerian Army of his readiness to dialogue with distribution companies (DISCOs) to relieve the Nigerian Army of its electricity debt burden.

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The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Taoreed Abiodun Lagbaja, has frowned at the total blackout being experienced in some barracks and cantonments across the country.

According to him, some barracks and cantonments have been in total blackout since January following the disconnection of various Army barracks and cantonments by power distribution companies over N42 billion electricity debt.

The Army chief, who described the blackouts as a security threat, disclosed that “corpses in the army mortuaries are decomposing and the owners of the corpses are protesting.”

Lagbaja made the disclosure during a visit to the Minister of Power, Mr. Adebayo Adekola Adelabu, in Abuja.

According to him, the main reason for the visit was to discuss the consequences of the power outage in army formations and the way forward.

He appealed for the liquidation of the N42 billion electricity debt being owed by the army.

He said: “Debt owed is loaded on the meter, so no matter the amount of credit we put in, the meters pick it up automatically.”

Lagbaja said it is impossible for the Army to raise funds to pay the entire debt and, therefore, solicited for liquidation, as was done in 2005 by the then President.

He assured the minister of the Army’s unflinching support for developing intelligence strategies to curb the menace of electricity infrastructure vandalism.

Speaking earlier, the Minister of Power assured the Nigerian Army of his readiness to dialogue with distribution companies (DISCOs) to relieve the Nigerian Army of its electricity debt burden.

Adelabu reiterated the importance of liquidity and funding in the sector, adding that debts could not be written off.

He, however, assured that he would intervene in order to restructure the debt payment if there was assurance of regular payment by the Nigerian Army.

The minister revealed that the power sector faces other difficulties in addition to its debt obligations to distribution and generating companies (GENCOs).

He added that vandalization of power infrastructure, which often leads to national grid collapse, theft, inefficiency in billing and collection processes, poor metering gaps, liquidity, shortages in gas supply, and transmission stations being blown up with explosives in volatile areas, are all part of the issues being experienced in the power sector.

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

“There is a saying that you won’t know what is happening in Rome until you get to Rome”, he said.

The minister, who acknowledged that power outages are not peculiar to army barracks but a national issue, said the DISCOs and GENCOs are profit-oriented organizations and “we can only plead with them to adopt a repayment plan on a monthly basis instead of embedding the whole debt in their meter.”

While encouraging the Army to continue assisting the ministry in safeguarding power facilities across the nation, Adelabu pledged to seek collaboration with the Army through any of the development partners for the installation of solar PVs and battery energy storage systems (BESS) as an alternative power supply in Army barracks and cantonments.

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