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APC NWC Member Decries Electricity Tariff Hike, Says "It is Capable of Hurting Us"



Amid complaints by most Nigerians about having to subsidize the cost of electricity by way of buying ng transformers cables and other electrical equipment, Deputy National Organizing Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC, Nze Chidi Duru, has urged the President Bola Tinubu-led administration to take steps to revoke the concession agreement with the electricity providers in the country over their monumental failure.

According to him, the current tariff hike for some consumers is one policy capable of hurting the electoral viability of the APC, saying this is one policy that must not stand.

“This has unintended consequences for the government and for the party. People are groaning on account of difficulties and I call on the regulators to go to the Nigeria Communication Commission NCC and learn what they have been able to do. This is one policy that must not stand,” he warned.


Speaking on Tuesday in Abuja, Duru said it is not the duty of Nigerians to buy transformers, provide electrical poles and fund other installations that should naturally have been provided by the Distribution Companies DISCOS and in some cases the Generating Companies GENCOS.


Expressing anger over what he described as unjustifiable disparity in electricity tariff, Duru claimed that the fact that Nigerians still fund such installations for the service providers is proof that they (companies) have not lived up to their expectations.


Reacting to the recent hike through segmentation of consumers into bands, the former federal lawmaker noted that the inability of the service providers to improve their services in the past 15 years indicates their unworthiness and continued exploitation of Nigerians.


Asked if he is demanding that government reviews the concession agreement, Duru angrily replied: “Of course, it has come to that. If they look at the terms of the contract government signed with the operators and if there is sufficient reason government should take over the agencies, DisCos and GenCos. It should because none of them have delivered on the duties imposed on that contract.


“Otherwise, why is it that Nigerians are still buying their transformers, cables, providing electricity for themselves, still generating power through other sources and still consuming diesel at inappropriate levels?

“Those selling generators are selling more than before and the volume of kilowatts of power available in the country continued to hover around 2000 to 6000 and never go beyond that. Was that not a reflection that there is not enough investment in that industry and a reflection that those operators don’t understand the business?

“It is an indication that what they are there to do is to impose hardship on the average Nigerian and there are sufficient grounds to do that.


“It is a pity that this is happening at the time the government is working very hard to tackle inflation, provide basic amenities to Nigerians and yet an agency of government can impose such inordinate charges and bills without base and background on the people of these country.


“They did it without the requisite checks and balances of what is needed to be done in the first place. It doesn’t work on the sense of logic that this should even happen in the first place,” Duru said.


Expressing more anger on the development, Duru said: “If the regulators, like the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission NERC are doing their work, they would have brought to book the operators in the power sector, particularly the value chain, and not them continuing to impose obligations on citizens for no fault of theirs other than the inappropriate concessioning of a very significant part of the economy, which is the power sector in Nigeria.

“It was sold to people with little or no experience. Our national patrimony was handed over to them and rather than invest in the sector, they rather saw the sector as an avenue not only to make money but also to undermine the country and citizens of Nigeria. This incessant increase in tariff will continue ad-infinitum if nothing is done to ensure that these people are brought to account for what needs to be done.


“Over 15 years after the concessioning, we have not seen any improvement. If you compare it with what is happening in the telecommunications industry where government deliberately made effort to bring in people who understand the sector, government made money but those who are professionals were brought in to operate the various licences.


“At the initial stage, the Nigeria Communications Commission NCC, under the leadership of Ernest Ndukwe, we could see the roadmap that it may be expensive in the beginning like buying SIM Card, but once they attained a critical mass, the cost will go down. And even before the timeline set, we saw it begin to go down immediately.


“You remember that at a time we were buying SIM for N35,000 or more, but suddenly it became free because the necessary investments were done in that sector as against what is currently happening in the power sector where government has continued to subsidize, including borrowing money with the intervention of the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN, running into N3 trillion.


“In a privatized industry, cost reflective is not banded on areas of residents or where you do your business. How much power you use should not be based on where you are residing.

“If for example I have my factory in Lugbe, Abuja, and producing 500 billion products, then I will be under Band C. But if I am unfortunate to have my factory in Asokoro, or Maitama, then I will be charged N255 because of geographical location yet I am producing less.


“It has never happened anywhere in the world. It is only a certification around residential, commercial and manufacturing to ensure that those who use electricity more are made to pay for what they consume.


“Even without conceding that this could have happened, there must be a transition that will encourage and engender the confidence of people in this country that power is being provided to them 20 hours in a day. That never happened.


“So people are paying for blackouts and inefficiency only because they have been banded in a given area. Go to Asokoro and find out if they get power supply for 20 hours a day. Yet they are charged with an ineffective cost of N255 and we have a regulator who instead of demanding efficiency on the part of the industry is colluding with them”, he lamented.


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