Consumers of electricity product and other stakeholders have vowed to resist implementation of the new power tariff increase announced by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, expected to become effective from July 2020.
Describing the proposed tariff hike not justifiable, they, however, promised to mobilise all electricity consumers across the country to apply any measure humanly possible, including seeking legal action to stop the hike.
Speaking on the matter in Abuja on Thursday, Princewill Okorie, the national president of Association for Public Policy Analysis, APPA, lambasted the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, for taking a unilateral decision on the issue concerning the Nigerian public.
Okorie argued that the distribution companies have not made enough investment to improve on the distribution network infrastructure and that there was therefore no justification for a new tariff increase.
According to him, “Why will they be announcing a new tariff without review of the performance of the electricity distribution companies, DisCos? Is the new tariff taking into cognisance infraction the NERC is supporting? The same people who will pay this new tariff are the same people being given estimated billings without following estimated billing methodology.
“Is it not the same people who are given estimated bills without methodology? So, what is the tariff increase? Are they not already exploiting the people? Before you talk about tariff increase, to be seen as genuine, how much is generated from the estimated billing across the federation?
“The numbers of metered consumers are very few compared to the number of consumers without meter. And can they account for money generated through estimated billings across the country?
“They are just taking advantage of the lack of proper coordination of electricity consumers and they are taking advantage of the people. Each time the DisCos keep on collecting reconnection fees which is no where in the Electricity Act.
“The reconnection fees they collect from the consumer they don’t issue a receipt for it. What is it for? Where does that money go, where did they account for that money?
“So, has there been the enumeration of metered and not metered consumers? Was there any enumeration to see the difference between what they take? What is the investment of the DisCos in the power infrastructure?
Okorie noted that, “They cannot even provide meter. Electricity consumers are still the ones paying to provide meters, transformers, wire and even the maintenance of transformers.
“That sector is not law-abiding. Now, when NERC that was set up to regulate is now ignoring the right of consumers provided in the same Act that provided for licensing of the power distributors, what are we talking about?.
“What is your justification for tariff increase, they are talking of having independent electricity distribution network, are they working? So, I don’t know the justification.”
On the next line of action, he said, “Possibly, we will take legal action against them if they continue to implement the new tariff. We will mobilise enough consumers’ support to do that.
“In fact, going to court is overdue. The estimated billing without following the estimated billing methodology is enough ground to seek legal redress.”
In his reaction, Kunle Kola Olubiyo, president of the Nigeria Consumer Protection Network, NCPN, said, though the tariff hike was a proposal, he requested it must be subjected to due process.
He said, “To us, it is a proposal because the consultation was not all-inclusive and wide enough. A tariff is not cast in stone and is not a unilateral something (sic). It is a public-funded institution and so, if they must do that to the best of our knowledge, we are not aware. It is their statutory mandate. There are demand and supply side of the value chain and it takes two to compliment each other.
“If they must do a tariff, is it tariff for MAP, is it tariff for operators of the distribution companies, or is it tariff for the electricity market? A tariff is supposed to come like structure, multi-year review order, allow them adjustment in incremental form, maybe once or twice in a year.
“But if they must do that, at every stage of the process, the end-users who are the demand end of the value chain are expected to be widely consulted.
“To us, we feel the process is flawed. And, of course, to the best of our knowledge, we have always agitated for the fact that the sharing formula of whatever we pay as end-users for electricity is being shared by the regulator,” Olubiyo stressed.