Proposed electricity tariff hike reckless, insensitive — HURIWA

Posted by News Express | 6 January 2020 | 466 times

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•Minister of Power, Saleh Mamman

A frontline civil rights advocacy group, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has carpeted the Federal Government over the just announced astronomical increase in the tariffs payable for electricity supply across the major city centres of the country.

The rights group expressed fear that the multiplier effect would be felt immediately due to spike in the costs of living.

In a statement on Sunday by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA said the focus of the Federal Government in the beginning phase of the year ought not be to impose grave hardship on the populace just coming out of the seasonal festivity of Christmas and New Year celebration. Rather, the priority of any good government should be more focused on how quality education can be delivered to millions of Nigerian children that would be returning to schools in the next few days.

“The Federal Government should be focused in this New Year on how to improve health care and on how to curb the internal corruption that has destroyed the so-called schools feeding programme. Instead, it is working day and night to unleash devastating economic strangulation through unsustainable reviewed electricity power tariffs on millions of Nigerians most of whom are unemployed, hungry, sick and poor.

“The President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration should be focused on restoring security of lives and property which is the primary duty of government and for which it has failed to discharge instead of rushing to introduce the wicked policy of electricity power hike in January of a fresh decade,” the rights group said.

HURIWA recalled that the 11 electricity distribution companies (DisCos) have the mandate of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to effect the tariff increase from April.

According HURIWA, consequent upon the NERC directive, Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) residential customers R3 will now pay N47.09 per unit as against the current N27.20, while Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company (IKEDC) customers in R3 category will pay N36.92 per unit instead of N26.50. Commercial customers C3 category will start paying N38.14 per unit instead of N24.63 and industrial customers of the IKEDC D3 category who are currently paying N25.82 per unit will henceforth pay N35.85 per unit.

HURIWA also recalled that by the hike, the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company residential (R3) customers who currently pay N27.11 per unit will start paying N48.12 per unit just as the National Electricity Regulatory Commission said the order was pursuant to Section 32 and 76 of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act aimed at providing a cost reflective tariffs that ensures prices charged by licensees are fair to consumers.

However, disagreeing with the explanation offered by the NERC for the current hike, HURIWA said that the decision by the electricity regulator “to capitulate to the Machiavellian type selfish hike demand by the private operators of the weak, incompetent and inefficient electricity power supply subsector” was against public interest and therefore will endanger public good and should be voided or resisted if government fails to listen to the voices of the people. 

It reminded the President that the voice of the people is the voice of God and that if he wants to get the pulse and the heartbeats of the real people, then he should disguise himself as a commoner and drive to one of the rural markets in any part of the Federation so he can properly dissect the monumental dimension of mass poverty afflicting millions of Nigerians.

“HURIWA believes that the import of any public policy must be grounded on the utilitarian satisfaction of the greatest percentage of the population of the good people of Nigeria. Any public policy churned out specifically to enrich some privileged elitist class to the detriment of millions of the good people of Nigeria hasn’t met the constitutional threshold because of the centrality of the need for all government’s actions, policies and projects to be people centred and to benefit public good.

“The astronomical hike in the purchasing prices of the virtually non-available and the erratic electricity power to less than 40 percent of the Nigerian population is directly offensive to the overall public good.

“HURIWA believes that this is the most reckless policy to be imposed wickedly on the Nigerian people who are currently going through some of the most primitive and painful economic adversities in about 40 years.

“For a Federal Government to introduce such a callous tariff hike in the beginning of a new year either shows the government officials as Shylock Machiavellian and mean-hearted selfish politicians who are insensitive and irresponsible to such an extent that the only policy they have brought up to wish Nigerians a happy New year is to impose a strange but strangulating electricity tariffs without first and foremost ensuring that the distribution companies in the power electricity sector who got licences to distribute electricity carry out their businesses in compliance with best global practices.

“The distribution companies lack transparency and accountability just as they are wayward in terms of corporate social responsibility to the people of Nigeria.

“These DISCOS are known to have been lavishly gifted with billions of Naira of Public fund by the Central Bank of Nigeria to improve their services but in the last five years it is evident that even the few Nigerian families who enjoy intermittent electricity power supplies are victims of price extortion through irregular billing methods without proper metering standards.

“Most electricity customers still don't have meters to be able to accurately reconcile their consumption. Why is the Federal Government, through the National Electricity Regulatory Commission, not concerned about decisively tackling the challenges associated with metering by the DISCOS rather than being so unnecessarily fixated with over exposing the marginalised electricity power consumers to untold hardships and further impoverishment in the hands of the profiteers masquerading as licenced distributors of electricity power to Nigerians?

“Also why the hurry to increase the tariffs for services that are poor and inefficient? The Federal Government must be compelled to reverse this anti people policy that will only increase mass poverty and will not in any away address the disturbing phenomenon of mass unemployment that became worst under the current administration since the last 5 years? Nigeria had only a year ago become the World's capital of poverty with over 90 million people being absolutely poor. So how will they generate the money to pay these extremely high costs of electricity power supply which is so few and far between.”

Source: News Express

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