By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives on Thursday asked the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), to suspend the proposed increase in electricity tariff in the country.
The decision of the house was as result of a motion moved by Hon. Aniekan Umanah on the floor of the House.
According to him, the Act prescribed its funding from 15% of electricity charges paid by customers to Distribution Companies; Aware that NERC, working with Distribution Companies, has increased electricity tariffs five times since 2015, the latest being on 1 January 2021”.
He said “despite those increases, Nigerians have not enjoyed significant improvement in power generation, instead they daily grapple with epileptic services from the DISCOs and unilateral exploitation in the name of estimated billing arising from non- metering of over 50% of consumers”.
“Poor services by the DISCOs, have impacted negatively on the socio-economic growth of the country as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Report of 2020 on Nigeria indicated that the manufacturing sector lost over $200 billion to inadequate power supply while a whopping $21 billion was said to have been spent by Nigerians on generating sets within the period under review”.
He observed further that “the Nigerian masses have gone through so much hardship in recent times, arising from acts of terrorism, banditry, kidnappings, farmers and herdsmen’s crisis with its toll on agricultural activities, displacement from ancestral homes, loss of loved ones, starvation arising from inability to return to daily occupation and loss of personal properties running into several millions of naira”.
He raised concerns that “at a time governments all over the world are adopting measures to cushion the devastating effects of the dreaded COVID–19 pandemic on their citizens by providing a wide range of palliatives to losses of loved ones, jobs, businesses and general distortion in the social life, NERC is tinkering with the idea of a further increase in electricity tariff after that of 1 January, 2021, in a country where 2/3 of the 200 million population is grappling with the crippling effects of the pandemic;
“Concerned that the current economic recession made worse by hyperinflation has resulted in skyrocketing prices of foodstuffs, while the increase in prices of Petroleum Products has also triggered the further increase in transport costs and rents with unemployment rates at a frightening 33.3% while the spending power of an average Nigerian has drastically reduced, any further hike in electricity tariff at this time will amount to overkill, lack of empathy and height of insensitivity”.
The House adopted the motion, with its arguments and prayers, resolving to
“ Urge the Federal Government to direct the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission to rescind the decision to further increase electricity tariff proposed for June, 202l in view of the hard times Nigerian masses are currently going through”.
The House resolution, also mandated” the Committees on Power, Poverty Alleviation and Labour, Employment and Productivity to ensure compliance”.