Our Power Minister Needs To Get His Priority Right – CACOL
The Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL), has raised serious concerns on the way the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), suddenly carried out the recent threat made by Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), that Nigerians have to pay more for electricity.
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission on Monday, 21st of December, 2015 announced new tariffs payable by electricity consumers, indicating 45% increase in charges for different categories of consumers across the country.
It could be recalled that about two weeks ago, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, had hinted that the electricity tariffs would go up and Nigerians should be ready to pay more for electricity. However, the House of Representatives have warned NERC not to increase the tariff yet.
CACOL is of the view that Mr Babatunde Fashola’s administration should start by examining the performance of the power generation, transmission and distribution companies and take necessary action against their non-performance rather than towing the line of his predecessors where consumers were forced to pay for the power they didn’t consume.
Reacting to the increment, the Executive Chairman of the Coalition, Comrade Debo Adeniran lamented that Mr. Babatunde Fashola did not allow the issue to go into debate by the victims of this high handedness before he made NERC to carry out the threats. “That the tariff was increased shows that the power minister never gave consideration to the opinion of the National Assembly, and that is a clear departure from democratic norm.” There should be checks and balances which should be respected by the three arms of the federal government. We expected that the Power Minister would have allowed the debate on the increment to get to a logical conclusion before carrying out his threat.
With the power segment now wholly private sector driven, Nigerians expect better services. However, our recent experience has been far from pleasant with so many issues ranging from metering gaps resulting in estimated billing system, load rejection from the distribution companies due to poor infrastructure, in-arbitrary increase in tariff, constant and sustained tariff review, etc. All these impact negatively on the consumers because it did not reflect in the quality of service delivery.
The Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi, while speaking on the raise in tariff said, “The development is good news for electricity consumers who have long asked for a more just and fair pricing of electricity”.
Reacting to this, Adeniran averred that “the fixed charges is actually exploitative hitherto and removing it is no favour to the people because the tariff increase is a disservice to Nigerians. It is stealing from one hand and giving to another. Ordinarily there is no reason why people should be made to pay fixed charges for the power they do not consume.
Nigerians thought that with the privatization of the power sector just like the telecom industry, Nigeria would be the better for it. All of these today has proven to be a fluke. The current situation has put so many people out of business, and taken away from others their means of livelihood. Artisans and small business enterprises (SMEs) that are catalysts for economic development, have closed shops due to our incessant power failure. Power is not a luxury but a necessity, Adeniran emphasized.
The power generation segment has been bedeviled by lack of turnaround maintenance, gas pipeline vandalisation, etc, among other challenges which has affected the level of power supply nationwide. Mr. Babatunde Fashola, the new minister of power as a matter of urgency, should intervene in this power crisis that keeps taking its toll on the various sectors of the Nigerian economy, which portends a negative signal of the change agenda of the Buhari’s administration.
Adeniran therefore, calls for a review of Nigeria’s power sector policies with a view to enhancing optimum performance across the entire sector, noting that the country’s current generation capacity hovers around 4,700 megawatts despite the huge funds injected into it so far for a large population of over 170 million people. Privatization of the sector has not guaranteed better services for Nigerians so far. The power minister should ensure that government continues to provide support and encourage private sector investment in gas processing infrastructure and explore more energy sources, to complement reliance on National Gas and Hydro Power Generation.
The Human rights activist stressed that, “APC should match its words with action because they never said that they are going to make life more difficult for the people. The power minister must ensure to tackle the various challenges facing the power sector. He exploited Lagosians successfully because it is a monolithic government. ‘You can only deceive some people for some time; you can’t deceive all the people all the time.’ Nigerians will not be as dogmatic as Lagosians have allowed themselves to be treated.”
Furthermore, every Disco should be enforced to meter all its customers. The demand by the distribution companies for cost reflective tariff so as to remain in business should be placed side by side with effective service delivery, after which the issue of tariff increase can now come. Until we fix our power sector, all the talk about the industrial revolution plans and creating jobs/wealth for Nigerians, will just be mere talks and a waste of time. The power issue is overly dragging and by now ought to have been a thing of the past. All hands must be on deck to make sure Nigerians have stable power/electricity supply. Adeniran concluded.