The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has called for the suspension of the proposed hike in electricity tariff, saying the increment should not be allowed until estimated billing is criminalised.
The speaker expressed worry over the ability of power distribution companies to provide uninterrupted power supply after tariff hike, adding that there is no guarantee the Discos will not continue with the nefarious practice of bills estimation.
Gbajabiamila then urged the National Assembly to ensure that the proposed new electricity tariff, when eventually implemented, was cost-reflective.
In a series of tweet on Friday, the speaker also disclosed that he would meet with the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, and other ‘stakeholders’ in the power sector over the matter.
Gbajabiamila has already sponsored a bill seeking to make it criminal for electricity service providers to deny consumers meters or estimate their bills. Introtroduced in the 8th National Assembly and revisited by the current 9th House, the bill is awaiting third reading.
Last December, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) announced the immediate review of electricity tariffs in the country from January 1. The order was issued to the 11 electricity distribution companies (DISCos).
Signed jointly by the Chairman of the Commission, Joseph Momoh, and the Commissioner for Legal, License & Compliance, Dafe Akpeneye, the order spelt out the various tariff reviews for all categories of consumers — except those consumers classified as residential (R1).
The reviews ranged from 59.7 per cent for consumers in Ikeja to 77.6 per cent in Enugu.
Under the new order, electricity consumers in Ikeja who used to pay about N13.34 per kWh since under the 2015 MYTO when the last review was carried out will from January 1 this year pay N21.80 per kWh, same as their R2 counterparts.
Their counterparts in Enugu, who used to pay about N17.42 per kWh will, under the new order, pay about N30.93 kWh from January 1.
Their R2 and R3 counterparts who paid about N19.31 and N27.11 per kWh since 2015, will now be paying N34.28 and N48.12 per kWh. Residential (R2) and R3 consumers in Ikeja, who have been paying N13.34 and N26.5 per kWh since 2015, will now be paying N21.30 and N21.80 per kWh.
Residential consumers are those categorised as those using singe phase and three-phase meters and electricity consumption of about 50 kWh in premises with flats exclusively for residential purposes.
The affected DISCos include Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, Benin Electricity Distribution Company, Enugu Electricity Distribution Company, Eko Electricity Distribution Company, Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company, Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company, Jos Electricity Distribution Company, Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company, Kano Electricity Distribution Company, Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company and Yola Electricity Distribution Company.
The federal government, in reaction said it will continue to subsidise the gap in electricity cost to consumers pending the hike in April.
Tweeting via his verified handle, @femigbaja, Gbajabiamila on Friday wrote that the increase should not be whimsical with no empirical basis.
“There is no guarantee that after any electricity tariff hike, the Discos will not continue with the nefarious practice of bill estimation or provide uninterrupted power supply,” he tweeted.
“I believe @nassnigeria should ensure that any increase in electricity tariff, if at all, should be cost-reflective and not just a whimsical increase with no empirical basis.
“Also, any such increase should only be made after the proposed amendment to the law criminalising estimated billing is signed into law. I intend to meet and discuss this sequence and other conditions with the Attorney General of the Federation and other relevant authorities.”
In his reaction, a twitter user accused the distribution companies of attempts to sabotage the system, throwing his weight behind the speaker’s suggestion.
“The DisCos are trying everything to sabotage the system,” Demola Adefajo, tweeted. “I’ve paid for meter since December. Ikeja Electric is yet to supply meter. There are others who have paid earlier but no response from @IkejaElectric”
Another user, Paul Daniel, said that: “Meter should be free. It remains the property of the discos. This 419 must stop.”
Tweeting via @slimcfaDuz, one user said that if there would be increment, then there should be 24 hours uninterupted supply.
He wrote: “We condemn any increase in electricity tariff. If there should be any at all,the DISCOS should ensure us 24hrs uninterrupted power supply. It should be practical.”
Another user, @caxim04, noted that: “Our government should not put cart before the horse. The new law must be in place before tarrif hike. That will be fair to all.”