Disturbed by the insistence of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission to enforce the new power tariffs from February 1, consumers have resolved to petition the National Assembly and the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, on the matter.
Towards the end of December last year, NERC announced a new tariff regime in which it raised the amounts payable for units of electricity by different categories of consumers by over 45 per cent and recently insisted that the new rates would be enforced from next month.
But consumers, under the aegis of the Nigerian Electricity Consumer Advocacy Network, has urged the government and the National Assembly not to allow the electricity distribution companies to implement the increase in tariffs.
The Chairman, NECAN, Mr. Tomy Akingbogun, told newsmen that the body had met with the heads of various consumer advocacy groups in states across the country and the demand of power consumers was unanimous.
He said, “We have our own argument and we believe that the information given by the Discos as to why tariffs should be increased is one-sided. NERC did not present our own investigation and views to the companies, for we made explanations of our findings to the commission but it never gave us a copy of the communiqué of the meetings it had with the power firms.
“By so doing, it means that something is wrong, because we are supposed to have a copy of the communiqué of every meeting, but they never gave us. The communiqué I’m talking about is the one issued at the end of the public enlightenment information meetings and consultations that they are supposed to have before any increment.”
Akingbogun added, “We objected; but still at that, they never let us have any official document concerning the meeting despite the fact that we presented our papers to NERC. So, right now, we don’t have any official report showing our own inputs as to why we believe that electricity tariffs should not be increased. That is why we want to meet the minister so that we can let him know what is wrong with the review and how it should be corrected.
“We are also planning to press our demand at the National Assembly, because we believe it won’t be right to increase tariffs without hearing from all sides in the power sector. The power sector is not only made up of the Discos, the consumers are also stakeholders in the sector and they too must be heard.”
An official at NERC told our correspondent that the commission would go ahead with the reviewed tariff regime and that it was consulting with the National Assembly on the matter.
“In our statement some weeks ago, we made it clear that we are consulting with the lawmakers on this matter and I can assure you that we are going ahead as planned, whether there is an officially appointed chairman for NERC or not,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said.