Suspend electricity tariff hike, Reps tell power minister

The House of Representatives has asked the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Power, to suspend the planned upward review of electricity tariff until the National Assembly lifts the embargo.

The House Committee on Power, which met with the ministry, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission and distribution companies in Abuja on Tuesday, asked that the policy, scheduled for implementation from April 1, 2019, remained on hold until the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, concluded his talks with stakeholders.

The Speaker had, on Saturday, via his verified personal Twitter handle, stated that the Discos had yet to convince Nigerians that estimated billing would be stopped if they increase the consumption tariff.

He had also said the National Assembly should ensure that the proposed new electricity tariffs were cost-reflective, while stating that the increment should not be allowed until estimated billing, popularly referred to as ‘crazy bill’ was criminalised.

The Speaker had also disclosed his resolve to meet with the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), and other stakeholders in the power sector on the matter.

The Minority Leader, Mr Ndudi Elumelu, had earlier on Thursday condemned the plan, asking the NERC, which regulates the power sector, to stop all processes leading to the increment.

The NERC had approved the increment in its December 2019 Minor Review of Multi-Year Tariff Order 2015 and Minimum Remittance Order for the Year 2020.

The NERC had on Saturday directed the 11 electricity distribution companies in the country to increase their tariffs beginning from April.

READ  Iran confirms two missiles fired at Ukraine airliner

But the Chairman of the House Committee on Power, Mr Magaji Aliyu, after the members grilled the government officials for about one hour, said Nigerians would not accept the new tariffs until estimated billing by the Discos, popularly called ‘crazy bill’, had been prohibited.

The lawmaker said he received about 50 petitions by electricity users against the government and the private operators.

“On behalf of this committee, I will liaise with the Senate Committee (on Power); I want to ask you to put this on hold until proper consultation is achieved. We want to have a smooth sailing.

“We have seen what happened in the communications sector, everybody is paying, nobody is complaining. We see what is happening in the petroleum sector, some are selling (Premium Motor Spirit or petrol) at N145 per litre, and some are selling as low as N143, N142 per litre. But we are not going to allow you to charge different tariffs for different zones. It has to be uniform because the poor Nigerian in my village (in Jigawa) is the same poor Nigerian that is paying for power in Nnewi or Ado Ekiti. People will not understand, you have to do a lot of media work for people to understand what you mean.”

Earlier in his presentation, the acting Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Power, Mr Ahmed Abdul, representing the Minister of Power, Mamman Saleh, noted that though the NERC was under the ministry, the commission was in charge of tariffs and reviews.

Abdul said, “The MYTO review is being handled by NERC, which is an agency under the ministry. A representative of the NERC is here with us, I will like him to brief the House fully where we are today.”

READ  2023: No old politician will succeed me, says Umahi

The General Manager, Market Competition and Rates, NERC, Sharfuddeen Mahmoud, noted that the Federal Government had announced its resolve to gradually remove subsidy on electricity.

He said this was contained in the 2016-2018 MYTO but the government made a U-turn and suspended the removal till April 2020. According to him, the aggregate price is N55 per kilowatt.

Leave a Reply