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Senate orders NERC to halt power tariff increase

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The Senate

The Senate

Lawmakers urge public hearing
GIVING vent to the frustrations of electricity consumers in the country, the Senate yesterday ordered the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to halt the 45 per cent proposed increase in tariff.

The upper legislative chamber gave the directive at its resumption of plenary after a two-week suspension to enable them to consider the 2016 budget proposals of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

Adopting a two-prayer motion moved by Suleiman Nazif (APC Bauchi North), the Senate directed its Committee on Labour to carefully review the law establishing NERC with the principal aim of establishing a strong regulatory body that would ensure proper and pocket-friendly billing system in such a way that the consumers and investors would be treated equitably.

The Senate also mandated the Committee on Employment, Labour and Productivity to hold a public hearing of stakeholders, Ministry of Power, NERC, distribution companies (discos) and others with the aim of re-examining the matter and be able to arrive at a logical conclusion such that Nigeria workers and the entire Nigeria masses would not be short-changed.

Nazif observed that the increase would have a multiplier effect on the Nigerian economy with manufacturing companies having to pay more for electricity, stressing that due process in the extant laws for such increase was not followed in consonance with Section 76 of the Power Sector Reform Act (2005).

He also observed that the distribution companies (discos) had continued to exploit Nigerians through an estimated billing system for the majority of consumers while deliberately refusing to make pre-paid meters available.

According to him, most consumers are not metered in accordance with the signed privatisation Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) of November 1st, 2013, which stipulates that within 18 months gestation period, all consumers are to be metered.

“The increase is only intended to protect the investment of a select few and not to serve the interest of Nigerian masses who are already battling with the prevailing economic recession.
“ We should be worried that increase in tariff will pave the way for additional heavy burden on consumers coupled with challenges in the economy. It will adversely affect the purchasing power of Nigerian workers and the entire Nigerian masses and by extension, aggravate restiveness in the country,” he said

The Senate President, Abubakar Saraki thereafter mandated the Committees on Labour and Power to meet with the relevant agencies of government and find a lasting solution. He also mandated the two committees to conduct public hearings.
“NERC should forthwith suspend the implementation of the new tariff. I believe that when we have a public hearing, these issues will be addressed. Until then, the new regime stands suspended,” Saraki declared.

Supporting the motion, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, said Nigerians were already on life support. He urged his colleagues to reject the increase and stand with Nigerians.

Senator Albert Bassey (PDP Akwa Ibom) also supported the move, saying: “I want to commend the labour unions for protesting. This Senate must take a stand to protect the interest of Nigerians.”

Senator Dino Melaye (APC Kogi-West), urged lawmakers to go beyond the suspension of the new tariff regime. He said there was the need to call on electricity generation and distribution companies to pay back loans they obtained from the Federal Government to get metres for their customers.

He said: “This increase makes it the fourth time that electricity tariffs will be up after the privatisation of the power sector. Their excuse has always been that they want to improve on the electricity. There was a time that the government gave loans to distribution and generation companies to buy metres and give to customers. They are yet to pay back those loans.

“We need to take a stand and mandate the government to reduce the tariffs. There was no negotiation with the Senate or labour. They arbitrarily increased the tariffs and expect us not to talk .”



7 Comments
  • King o. Oduemi

    I commend the house for taking a stand on this particular issue that has been lingering in the power sector. As a consumer it is very painful when @ every month you would have to count out your hard earned money to pay for services not rendered. And the electric company don’t care because if they sell or not estimated billing sees that they get money either way. Please am calling on the house to please, please look into have these people reduce. Am not saying scrap the bills being owed but at least reduce them to 60% to enable consumers payoff pending debt and start a fresh. Its painful enough to pay for services not rendered. Not to talk of the fact that the bills are outrageous. So let them meet us the consumers half way. And we will do our best to help ourselves and our country move forward

  • Mr. A

    This move is wrong. The new price was arrived at after the input of stakeholders in a process that was well publicised, even though some groups, including NLC chose to stay away. We cannot get it right by policy sommesaults. I know what it costs me to fuel generator every day at home and it can never be compared with public power supply at any forseeable rate per kilowatt-hour. I make sure I am billed what my meter reads.

    • emmanuel kalu

      The new rate is good for the system. however the problem is that disco haven’t provided meter to their consumers and continue to use estimate billing to loot people. your case is different, you have meter and you can ensure that what you pay is what you use. millions don’t have meter and being looted. what should have happened is that NERC should only allow increase of rate only when a meter has being installed. This would force the discos to meter the consumers quickly to get the new rate.

      • Britex

        which new rate is good, provide better electricity irrespective of meter or no meter and no one will complain, but we are same same old epileptic power and u still want to increase tariff, thats wickedness.

      • Zuky

        Metering systems should be in place first and foremost, thereafter a very well articulated public discussion on the subject matter can be organised.

        I am billed N10, 000 monthly, reason, “you don’t have a Meter” this is absolutely crazy cos with Meter its impossible for a two bedroom to consume that amount. Short changing should not be encouraged, metres should be issued out to all buildings and metered accurately.

    • godwin111

      So because of the low rate . that’s why you don’t get light?

    • TKBaba

      The Senate is now the new regulatory body for electricity in Nigeria.

      What happened to the regulatory body charged with the responsibilities to regulate activities of the DISCO companies?

      The Senate should have invited the management of the regulatory body to provide information on the new tariff.

      This is the reason why foreign investors will continue to stay away from this industry.