The National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) in Nigeria has opened a forum office in Benin, the Edo State capital, to be closer to the consumers for the purpose of addressing unresolved electricity issues between the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) and its customers within its coverage area of Edo state.

Minister of Power, Professor Chinedu Nebo, who commissioned the office, said the initiative would enhance NERC’s mandate of protecting consumer rights. Nebo, who was represented by a Deputy Director in the Ministry, Omololu Ogunleye, hinged the success of ongoing reforms in the sector on the level of interaction among the stakeholders.

He called for support for the distribution companies to ensure that consumers’ rights were protected. ‘These companies must ensure that Nigerians have adequate power supply,’ he stressed. Ogunleye said that the forum would serve as a platform and a major talk point for the resolution of electricity issues from various communities.

‘The Commission has the mandate to ensure that Nigerians have adequate and reliable supply of power. Let me use this opportunity to emphasise that the Federal Government’s efforts are quite glaring and it will not rest on it oars until it has achieved the desire to provide electricity for all.’

Chairman of NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi, represented by Dr. Albert Ibrahim, said the forum office was set up specifically to bridge the gap between power consumers and the electricity distribution company in the state. ‘The forum is a body charged by the commission to hear and resolve customer complaints on appeal in the operational area of every distribution licensee. Com­plaints that may come to the forum are complaints not settled at the customer care units situated in the distribution company,’ he said.

Amadi said officials of com­plaints office were drawn from relevant stakeholders, which he said included the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Nigerian Society of Engi­neers (NSE), non-governmental organisations (NGOs), civil soci­ety organisations and the Benin Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mine and Agriculture (BENC­CIMA).

Meanwhile, the Managing Di­rector and Chief Executive Officer of BEDC, Mrs. Funke Osibodu, who was represented by her Ex­ecutive Director, Commercial, Abu Ejoor, described the effort as a timely intervention to boost inter­action between the company and its numerous consumers.