Incessant hike in electricity tariff worrying —Dogara

By Energy Worth

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Yakubu Dogara, said on Monday that the frequent hike in electricity tariff was injustice to Nigerians, who had become accustomed to living without regular power supply.

He observed that the tariff hike was in spite of the N123bn bailout the Federal Government gave the power sector.

Dogara spoke in Abuja at a public hearing on the need to interface with the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission and other stakeholders to critically examine and re-assess all inputs and assumptions in the Multi-Year Tariff-Order.

He noted that paying higher tariff for power that was not supplied had become a huge burden on consumers and must be addressed by stakeholders, particularly the regulator, NERC.

The speaker said, “There has been a prolonged public outcry over the continuous increase in the unit price of electricity, which many believe is not in tandem with the current realities in electricity supply.

“The tariff has continued to increase from an average of N10 per kw/h in 2007 to an average of N24.20 kw/h in 2017 without substantial improvement in power supply.

“Despite, the N123bn Nigerian Electricity Market Stabilisation Fund provided by the Federal Government as subsidy to the sector operators, the situation remains unpleasant. The House is concerned about the seeming injustice to the Nigerian public and wishes to examine the possibility of redressing the trend.”

Dogara added, “It is needless to say that adequate electricity supply in our country will stimulate economic activities and reduce unemployment, which will invariably ameliorate youth restiveness and the high crime rate.

“As stakeholders, we must all join hands to find a lasting solution the challenge of unstable electricity supply in the country, and in particular, the issue of excessive electricity tariff that seems to be incongruous with the quality and quantity of electricity supplied.”

Dogara told the session that the most important resolution Nigerians expected from the stakeholders was to come up with a realistic tariff regime.

Last month, the House began taking steps to contain alleged excesses of distribution companies in a bid to get a fair deal for power consumers.

One of such measures was the introduction of a bill to criminalise estimated billing by the Discos.

The bill, which seeks to amend the Electricity Power Sector Reforms Act, has successfully passed second reading and public hearing stages.

It seeks to outlaw estimated billing and prescribe penalties for Discos that fail to supply prepaid meters to their customers within 30 days of applying to be connected to power.

The bill, sponsored by the Leader of the House, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, prescribes penalties ranging from a fine of N500,000 to N1m or a prison term of six months.

The bill provides in part, “All electricity charges or billings to the premises of every consumer shall be based strictly on prepaid metering and no consumer shall be made to pay any bill without a prepaid meter first being installed at the premises of the consumer.”

However, NERC and the Discos have opposed the bill on the grounds that it would compound the situation, rather than address it.