Johnson Eleojofi moved into his residence at the Shasha area of Lagos State five years ago.

Upon arrival, he was embraced by an outstanding bill of over N25,000 left by the previous occupant of the apartment. 

Apparently the previous occupants of the premises had a special understanding with the power officials. Yemi was the JJC.

The deal was simple - when the officials come to disconnect debtors a 'package' is gathered and the 'gods' are appeased. They carry their ladder and pass over.

When Johnson moved in and was informed about the arrangement, he was not comfortable with it, so he met with the landlord, who gave him the go-ahead to obtain a pre-paid metre. 

He applied for a pre-paid metre and after a lot of back and forth by the power firm, he was eventually 'blessed' with a meter.

His joy was however short-lived a year after as the meter monitor started misbehaving. Initially it was taking long to recharge after several attempts. It later stopped recharging while displaying an error message.

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Johnson informed Ikeja Electric who sent their technicians to inspect it and confirmed Johnson's fear - the monitor was faulty. 

He was not perturbed as he thought it was replaceable but he was rudely shocked after he was informed by the power firm officials that there was no replacement for his monitor and he would have to return to his old post paid meter.

Johnson's jaw dropped as he couldn't believe what he had just been told. He picked his car keys, drove down to the headquarters of Ikeja Electric for further inquiries.

Alas, the technicians were not bluffing. There was no replacement. This was further confirmed by the customer agent.

Limited Options 

When Bounce News visited the headquarters of Ikeja Electric, the customer agent who spoke confirmed what Johnson and some other consumers are currently going through.

The agent who spoke on the condition of anonymity revealed that there are no replacements for any faulty meters or monitors if they cannot be fixed.

She said, "The management has not made any provision for replacing faulty or condemned meters. 

"If the monitor is faulty, two options are left for the consumer to choose from. It is either our technicians come around to recharge using another monitor or the consumer will be revered back to post paid meter and given estimated bills."

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This is happening even as the agitation for pre-paid meters keeps increasing. Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola had said he has been receiving several requests from the Discos that their customers still wanted to pay for meters.

He said, “Please recall that government had in the past attempted to intervene in meter supply through Credited Advance Payment for Metering Initiative (CAPMI), which ultimately I decided we should wind down because of the distrust and disaffection it was creating between consumers and Discos with government caught in the middle with numerous petitions by customers who paid for meters that were not delivered within the approved time.

“Some Discos have come back to say that their customers still want to pay for meters and they can reach agreements with them on how to pay for it. Government will not stand in the way of such an agreement. It is consistent with the intent of privatisation envisioned by the Electric Power Sector Reform Act or at least it does not violate the Act.”

One of the reasons for acquiring a pre-paid meter is to be able to control the amount of energy used and get value for money, what happens if one is left with no option than to go back to the dark days of getting estimated bills?

Here's hoping the rightful authorities take note and intervene.

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