The Senate has directed the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing as well as the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, to immediately reverse the hike in electricity tariff which took effect on the 1st of this month.
This directive was handed after the upper chamber adopted a motion moved by an All Progressives Congress, APC member representing Bauchi North, Senator Suleiman Nazif.
While contributing to debate on the motion, the Deputy Senate President, Chief Ike Ekweremadu decried the new tariff regime, stressing that allowing the increase to stay would worsen the burdens of the Nigerian people, who he noted have suffered enough.
According to him, “I join the rest of my colleagues in condemning this increase in tariff and I speak as one representing a Senatorial District. And I also believe that I am speaking the minds of the rest of my colleagues, when I say that all those we are representing are worried about this increase in tariff.
“Unfortunately, our brothers and sisters who had the privilege and the opportunity of taking over these Distribution Companies (DISCOS) have failed to inject any money into them and now we are being forced to pay the price.
“As a country, our people are now on life-support. There are lots of problem already and for any person to further draw more blood from their lives, it means the person wants them dead”.
“For me, this tariff increase is ultra-wicked, unconscionable and the height of insensitivity,” he added.
Nazif had, while moving the two-prayer motion, lamented the alleged arbitrary increase of the tariff and insisted that due process was not followed as stipulated in Section 76 of the Power Sector Reform Act 2005.
He added that most consumers were not provided with meter in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding dated November 1, 2013, stressing that the document stipulated that all consumers would have been provided with meter within 18 months of gestation period.
While accusing the Discos of continuously exploiting Nigerians and increasing their burdens, he said, “The distribution companies have continued to exploit Nigerians by estimated billing system for the majority of consumers while deliberately refusing to make ore-paid meters available.
“Privatisation in any part of the world is meant to inject fresh funds into the concerned sector and not to impose ridiculous tariff on helpless masses.
“The increase is only intended to protect the investment of select few and not to serve the interest of Nigerian masses who are already battling with the prevailing economic recession. The increase in tariff will pave way for additional heavy burden on consumers and 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.”
The Senate consequently asked its committee on Labour to carefully review the law establishing NERC with a view to making it a strong regulatory body that will ensure that both the consumer and investor will be treated fairly and equitably.
It equally mandated its committee on Employment, Labour and Productivity to organise a public hearing of stakeholders, including the Ministry of Power; the NERC; Distribution Companies, DISCOS; and Generating companies, GENCOS so that an acceptable way of resolving all issues relating to the sector could be effectively resolved.
Source: THE WILL
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