The recent announcement by Sam Amadi, Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, concerning an increase in electricity tariff in Nigeria is nothing but daylight robbery of the citizens of the country by the government. It does not only amount to exploitation, but stealing from the already impoverished people of the country to augment and favour investors in the power sector.
Constantly and progressively, the government has increased electricity tariff even as the megawatts have continued to drop, with the government only comfortable with offering excuses rather than providing solutions.
As many Nigerian workers were grappling with celebrating a bleak Christmas because of non-payment of salaries, Amadi, despite knowing that Nigerians are yet to enjoy uninterrupted electricity supply, wants them to pay heavily through crazy bills for poor services provided by the various electricity distribution companies.
Probably realising the backlash that would greet the new increase in tariff, he, however, stated that through the amended special Multi-Year Tariff Order to be known as MYTO 2.1 which officially took off on Christmas eve, distribution companies will not increase tariff for residential consumers for six months because service delivery to them has not improved significantly.
This would not be the same with other consumers. In this case, companies that have had to thrive more on power generators and purchase of diesel at heavy cost to themselves and production would be affected. Needless to remind the government and Amadi that the few remaining companies in Nigeria today only operate skeletally as many have relocated to neighbouring African countries due to very poor electricity supply and the harsh business climate in Nigeria.
Nigerians have often expressed readiness to pay higher tariff, but this must be when electricity supply has improved. This is a country where the people have not had the luxury of celebrating constant power supply for even two weeks consistently, yet, they live in apprehension of increase in tariff all the time. It is on this basis we say the current increase in tariff is unjustifiable, unacceptable and insensitive.
This government’s inhumanity to the citizens must be rejected by the people and investors. We cannot continue to pay for the failure in the power sector. The harsh economic condition of the average Nigerian makes surviving in the country a miracle. So any attempt to further add to the people’s burden is not acceptable.
The reason given by Amadi at a press conference in Abuja, that the increase is as a result of losses that DISCOs (distribution companies) were facing and the new price of gas, which took effect this month was almost the same reason given by the NERC for the same increase last year and sounds like a worn out record. What it means is that Nigerians must continue to pay heavily for what they do not enjoy. It is only in a docile country like Nigeria that consumers could be taken for such a long ride without fighting for their right.
NERC has admitted that there is lack of credibility in the data that was put forward during the privatisation of the power sector. How should that now be the burden that Nigerians have to bear? The sane thing to do is get the power sector functioning and Nigerians would see the justification to pay for services provided. Anything short of this is a crime against the dehumanised people of the country.
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