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Senate tells FG, Discos to halt electricity tariff increase

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The Nigerian Senate on Tuesday urged the Federal Government and the 11 Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) to halt the push for an increase in electricity tariff, noting that ‘the poor must be allowed to breathe.’

The Senate also resolved that henceforth, town hall meetings on electricity should be held at the head offices of the DisCos while communities that bought transformers or any electrical appliances should be compensated.

These resolutions followed a motion sponsored by Akintunde Yunus Abiodun, a senator representing Oyo Central, and co-sponsored by Asuquo Ekpenyong (Cross River South) and Abbas, Aminu Iya (Adamawa Central). The sponsors of the motion argued that Nigerians were facing hard times as a result of the petrol subsidy removal.

In the motion titled, ‘Need to halt the proposed increase in electricity tariff by 11 successor DisCos’; Abiodun maintained that the price of gas – which is used for power generation, has not been increased, to warrant the DisCos increasing tariff at this time.

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He observed that the DisCos have filed an application for rate review with the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the request is premised on the need to incorporate changes in macroeconomic parameters and other factors affecting the quality of service, operations and sustainability of the companies.

Abiodun said that a one-week window provided by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) for comments from all relevant stakeholders on the issue was too short for any meaningful engagement. He argued that a higher electricity tariff will impede industrial growth, job creation, and overall economic development as this will have adverse effects on the nation’s drive towards sustainable development and poverty reduction.

Accordingly, the Senate resolves to: “Call on the Federal Government to intervene and halt the proposed increase in electricity tariff by the DisCos; urge NERC to decentralise proposed engagement with stakeholders scheduled for Abuja to the six geopolitical zones of the federation for effective participation by all. They also urged NERC to thoroughly look into the rate review applications filed by the DisCos, take into consideration the interests of citizens, affordability, and the need for improved service delivery:

The Senate further urged NERC ‘to explore alternative measures to address the financial challenges faced by the DisCos, such as improving operational efficiency, reducing technical and commercial losses, and enhancing revenue collection mechanisms.

Equally urge Discos to henceforth discontinue estimated billing and make available to all electricity consumers prepaid meters at affordable prices; and mandate the committee on power (when constituted) to engage with the federal ministry of power, NERC, and other stakeholders to find lasting solutions to the challenges facing the Nigerian electricity sector, including the need for comprehensive sector reforms. The Senate also resolved that the executive should ‘allow the poor to breathe.’