By Oji Odu
Why should the Federal Government, again, dance to the tunes of operators of the nations power sector to increase electricity tariffs? Why must they continue to see with the operators who have done nothing in the sector but find ways of ripping-off consumers and profiteering, as government continues to either provide them with bailout funds, loans et cetera?
Recent call by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, to electricity consumers in Nigeria did not come as a surprise to many who have seen the President Muhammadu Buhari administration as anti masses, full of policies that have rather strangulated the people and increasing hardship rather than provide relief.
Finally succumbing to pressure from the Generating Companies (GENCOs), Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) and the Distribution Companies (DISCOs), Osinbajo on Monday, November 27, 2017, called on Nigerians to prepare to pay higher electricity tariff. He said the higher electricity payment is inevitable.
The vice president made this known at the Sixth Presidential Business Forum held at the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The Sixth Presidential Business Forum, which focused on agriculture and its value chains, had in attendance the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbe, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, officials of government agencies and stakeholders in the agriculture sector in attendance.“There is no question at all that we must pay higher tariffs,” Osinbajo stated.
Explaining, the number two citizen revealed that government was not going to increase the tariff now, but was working towards cleaning the electricity value chain
He said the N700 billion Payment Assurance Guarantee set aside by government was to ensure uninterrupted payment for gas and liquidity in the power sector, and fund a smooth transition, “from where we will have a much more market-determined policy for electricity,” he noted.
In a chat with The Source, Unyio Paul, an energy expert said: “ Government always churns out excellent policies, but the problem is monitoring. Who will monitor it? What calibre of people will be assigned to see that it is successful?
“ Will it finally lay to rest the hydra-headed problem of crazy and estimated billing which the DISCOs have fraudulently continued by refusing to meter their customers is spite of various government directives? Don’t be surprised if the time for the take off of the new tariff regime is months from now,” she said.
The Magazine’s findings reveal that despite poor electricity supply, with Nigerians living most parts of every day in darkness, the electricity bills they are forced to pay monthly range from N7,000 and N15,000. Some even receive higher bills. In some months, a flat rate bill of N10,000 is distributed because the meters are not read by anybody.
As expected, opposition has continued to mount following this call by Osinbajo as the new gas regime takes off on December 1, 2017. Many are however skeptical that it will result in positive change as their impact have continued to weaken in recent times. Who will save Nigerians?