Reps Move to Stop Fresh Hike in Electricity Tariff

May 21, 2021
Electricity Tariff Hike

By Adedapo Adesanya

The House of Representatives is taking a huge step to stop the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) from increasing the electricity tariff.

The lawmakers in the lower chamber of the National Assembly have, therefore, called on the federal government to stop the proposed tariff hike.

At the plenary on Thursday, the House of Reps members said President Muhammadu Buhari must direct the regulatory agency for the electricity sector in Nigeria to suspend the plan in view of the economic reality plaguing Nigerians.

Similarly, the lawmakers mandated the House Committees on Power, Poverty Alleviation, as well as Labour, Employment and Productivity to ensure compliance with the directive.

The action of the parliamentarian followed a motion raised by Mr Aniekan Umanah, saying that the nation’s electricity regulator should suspend the proposed increase in electricity tariff.

He wondered why there would be an increase in electricity tariff at a time when Nigerians were going through hard times and governments all over the world were providing means to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the motion, the Electric Power Sector Act of 2005 established the NERC with a mandate to license Distribution Companies (DisCos), determine operating codes and standards, establish customer rights and obligations, as well as set cost-reflective industry tariff.

He also accused the distribution companies of exploitation in the name of estimated billing arising from non-metering of over 50 per cent of consumers across the country.

The lawmaker informed his colleagues that poor services by the DISCOs have impacted negatively on the socio-economic growth of the country, saying the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Report of 2020 on Nigeria indicated that the manufacturing sector lost over $200 billion to inadequate power supply while $21 billion was said to have been spent by Nigerians on generators within the period under review.

The lawmaker stated that the Act prescribed its funding from 15 per cent of electricity charges paid by consumers to distribution companies.

He decried that NERC, working with the distribution companies, had increased the tariff five times since 2015, the latest being on January 1, 2021.

The lawmaker made it known that despite the increases, the state of power had not improved as Nigerians grappled with epileptic services from the DISCOs.

He noted that Nigerians have gone through many hardships in recent times arising from acts of terrorism, banditry, and kidnappings.

Mr Umanah said he was concerned that at a time governments all over the world were adopting measures to cushion the effects of the COVID–19 pandemic by providing a wide range of palliatives to losses of loved ones, jobs, businesses and general distortion in the social life, NERC was considering a further increase in electricity tariff in a country where two-thirds of its 200 million population were grappling with the effects of the pandemic.

He stressed that the current economic recession made worse by inflation has resulted in disturbing prices of foodstuffs, and increased prices of petroleum products have triggered the further increase in transport costs and rents.

The lawmaker added that the spending power of an average Nigerian has drastically reduced, warning that any further hike in electricity tariff would signify insensitivity on the part of the government.

Adedapo Adesanya

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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