By Bimbola Oyesola, Isaac Anumihe, (Abuja), Adewale Sanyaolu, Oluseye Ojo, (Ibadan) Ndubuisi Orji, (Abuja) and Benjamin Babine, (Abuja)
Electricity consumers yesterday, lamented a sudden 50 per cent tariff increase by the Federal Government despite its earlier pledge not to hike rates until July 1, 2021.
This was even as the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) denied raising the tariff.
A NERC in a statement to Daily Sun denied approving purported raise in the Tariff Order for electricity distribution companies.
NERC’s Head of Public Affairs, Mr Micheal Faloseyi, said the Commission had in compliance with the Electric Power Sector Reforms Acts (EPRSA) ‘adjusted’ the rates for Service Bands A, B, C, D and E by N2.00 to N4.00 per kWhr to reflect the partial impact of inflation on its operation.
Faloseyi said that the Commission remains committed to protecting electricity consumers from failure to deliver on committed service levels under the service-based tariff regime.
The latest hike in electricity tariff is coming three months after a similar one was sanctioned by NERC in a policy tagged Service Reflective Tariff (SRT), which commenced on September 1, 2020.
PDP rejects electricity tariff hike
Meanwhile Nigeria’s main opposition party the People Democratic Party (PDP) has rejected the hike in electricity tariff by the National Electricity Regulatory Commission ( NERC).
The PDP in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, yesterday, demanded an immediate reversal of the increase. The party, while describing the hike as insensitive and ant-people, stated that it will worsen the economic hardship confronting Nigerians at the moment.
It contended “that the reasons adduced by NERC is not enough to warrant such an increase in electricity tariff, especially at the time Nigerians are looking up to government for economic recovery programmes and packages.
“The PDP urges the APC and its government to note that such electricity tariff hike, at this critical time, will bear more pressure on homes and businesses, impact negatively on our national productivity and make life more unbearable, particularly at this period of insufferable economic recession.
‘What our nation needs at this point are positive policies that will encourage Nigerians in their productive endeavours and cushion the hardship they face on daily basis instead of wicked policies that will only worsen their situation.
“It is imperative for the Federal Government to note that Nigerians are already weighed down by high costs and weak purchasing powers and as such should not be further burdened with high electricity costs.
Also speaking on the development, president of SSAEAC, Dr Chris Okonkwo, said the latest increase was unacceptable because it is outside the agreement it had with the Federal Government.
Okonkwo assured consumers that “Labour will reject the increase since it is outside the understanding it has with government.
A Human rights lawyer and labour activist, Mr. Femi Aborisade, for his part said the 50 per cent hike in electricity tariff by NERC effective from January 1, 2021, was an open declaration of economic war against the masses by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Nigeria.
Aborisade, in a statement made available to journalists in Ibadan on Tuesday, said: “The most recent reported electricity tariff increase by 50 per cent is an urgent clarion call on the masses to stand up and resist with unprecedented peaceful mass actions, protests and rallies ever seen in Nigeria. Ordinary people and their organisations, trade unions and young people, including the army of the unemployed must organise to resist peacefully.
“The Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) is the economic programme of the APC-led Federal Government. The policy in the ERGP on electricity is continual grant of tariff increases to encourage investors in the sector. This policy is not hidden. It is an open declaration of war against the masses. The APC-led Federal Government, like the PDP before it, is in power to wage economic war against the economic wellbeing of the masses. It is not a hidden agenda.
“The masses therefore have no choice but respond in like measure, to defend their interest, resist the tariff increase with peaceful action.
Reacting to the tariff raise, the Director General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Dr Muda Yusuf the Federal Government and the power DisCos to adopt a strategic approach to electricity pricing to avoid “a pushback from the consumers”. Yusuf said, while the commercial arguments for a hike might be strong, its implications, given the social context, must be reckoned with.
He said the transition to the new pricing regime should be strategic and gradual to minimise shocks and risk of “a pushback” by the consumers.
He said these contexts should have a moderating effect on price movement at this time, especially for a product of high social significance. Yusuf, however, reiterated the chamber’s support of a cost reflective tariff for electricity. “Context matters in policy conceptualisation and implementation, and we need to worry about social and economic contexts.
“It is important to take these factors into account in order not to put the entire reform process at risk,” he said.