The House of Representatives has asked the Federal Government to direct the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to halt with immediate effect, the proposed increase in electricity tariff scheduled to take effect from June 2021.
Adopting a motion sponsored by Rep Aniekan Umanah, the House said Nigerians were already passing through difficult times and therefore, more burden should not be added to them.
Presenting the motion before the House, Umanah said NERC, working with distribution companies, has increased electricity tariffs five times since 2015, the latest being on January 1, 2021.
According to him, despite those increases, Nigerians have not enjoyed significant improvement in power generation, instead, they daily grapple with epileptic services from the electricity distribution companies (DisCOs) and unilateral exploitation in the name of estimated billing arising from non- metering of over 50 per cent of consumers.
He maintained that 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 said: “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 million of naira.
“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.
“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 per cent 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.”