Electricity Tariff Hike: Disservice to Nigerians

How-Buhari-Can-Fix-Electricity-By-Chineme-Okafor

The perennial power saga that has plunged Nigerians into the throes of anguish and hardship over the years needs a more pragmatic approach from the government in order to create a conducive socio-economic environment for the people. There is need for proper planning as population keeps surging. The poor Nigerians have been hard hit by the wave of the insensitivity of the Discos with regards to regular tariffs review that make the Nigerians pay more for the electricity they hardly enjoy.

Bearing in mind the economic reality on ground, to ask Nigerians to pay more tariff for electricity would be gagging the people who have already been overly stretched by the reason of the constraint in economic activities that have translated to little or no resources to lots of Nigerians. To allow this hike, would be yet another untoward distress meted out to Nigerians which appears rather punitive in nature, and most uncalled for. Fourty per cent increase is unfortunate, rather undeserving, to bogus and would be most unbearable. In this context, the matter arising as it were, is, what exactly is the standpoint of the federal government in all of this?

In retrospect, sometime in February 2014, there was this talkshop on power sector financing that ordinarily wet the appetite of Nigerians who have longed over the years to see Nigeria get out of the seizure of everyday blackout. Interestingly, the conference held at the State House Banquet Hall while the thrust of the conference hinged on the transformation agenda of former President Jonathan which anchored on the vision 20:2020 – focused on building institutions to drive robust road maps of reform in key sectors of the economy, with the power sector reform as a pivot.

Ultimately, the direct beneficiaries of these fund influx are the Transmission Company of Nigeria, the Discos, Gencos, NIPPs, the emerging IPPs and other sector service providers. He called on prospective investors and financiers to participate in the conference which would afford them the opportunity to physically sight and comprehend the magnitude of emerging opportunities in the Nigerian power sector; adding that “it is reckoned that this will be a great impetus to trigger their interests in investing expeditiously” as the online report had it. So, having sighted this so called magnitude, what suddenly went wrong when the said assets were acquired.

What was the mindset of these investors when they gallantly opted for the acquisition of PHCN assets when government chose to privatise? How on earth do they assume they were going to run the business from inception? The truth is, when the country unbundled the power monopoly and the Discos bought the power assets, if they didn’t have money to inject into the business, why go into it in the first place? It is very clear that the Discos borrowed money to buy the assets.

Were the Discos expecting government to run the business for them? To make Nigerians pay more for electricity is conscienceless and ultimately devilish. From all of these outfalls, it is almost apparent that the Discos are somehow from within the same group that sold them out. That may partly account for the time to time bailout for these so called private investors. At some point in 2014, NERC insisted on investments to strenthen distribution networks. Can the Discos tell Nigerians how much of their monies they have invested?

For the record, there was a time in 2014 when labour and the federal government disagreed over tariff increase and now again at 40%. Nigerians should be wary of the Discos and the federal government. Why would there be any increase in electricity tarrif when there has not particularly been any appreciable improvement in power? The point is, sometime the FG gave over 200 billion naira to these companies as bailout at no interest or cost. However, if you need to know, that is the tax payers’s money that the latter cannot benefit from. Why would the federal government dole out so much fund to these private investors without any positive impact on the poor Nigerian consumers?

Moreover, there is this fixed monthly tariff, which is whether you use electricity or not, automatically you are surcharged. But the fact is that the investors should invest more money into their business until such a time they can begin to reap the dividends of their investment. However, upon these various bailouts, who is bailing the poor Nigerian out who is made to pay more tariff?

It is apparent that the Discos have been overpampered by the government at the expense of the poor Nigerians by reason of the largesse doled out to them. They are spoon-fed as infants. I think the era of instant coffee and instant milk is over.

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