Eromosele EbhomeleA Nigerian anti-corruption organisation, the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL, on Wednesday raised serious concerns over how the National Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, suddenly carried out the “recent threat” made by Mr. Babatunde Fashola, the Minister for Works, Housing and Power, that Nigerians have to pay more for electricity.

NERC had on Monday indicated 45 percent increase in charges for different categories of consumers across the country.

CACOL tasked Fashola’s administration to start by examining the performance in the power generation, transmission and distribution companies and take necessary action against their non-performance rather than towing the line of his predecessors where consumers are forced to pay for the power they did not consume.

Head of CACOL, Debo Adeniran, lamented that Mr. Fashola did not allow the issue to go into debate before allowing NERC to announce the increase.

“That the tariff was increased shows that the power minister never gave consideration to the opinion of the National Assembly, and that is a clear departure from democratic norm.

“There should be checks and balances which should be respected by the three arms of the Federal Government. We expected that the Power Minister would have allowed the debate on the increment to get to a logical conclusion before carrying out his threat.

“With the power segment now wholly private sector-driven, Nigerians expect better services. However, our recent experience has been far from pleasant with so many issues ranging from metering gaps resulting in estimated billing system, load rejection from the distribution companies due to poor infrastructure, in-arbitrary increase in tariff, constant and sustained tariff review, etc.

“All these impact negatively on the consumers because it did not reflect in the quality of service delivery,” Adeniran said.

To Adeniran, fixed charges are actually exploitative and removing them is no favour to the people because the tariff increase is a disservice to them in the first place.

“It is stealing from one hand and giving to another. Ordinarily there is no reason why people should be made to pay fixed charges for the power they do not consume.

“Nigerians thought that with the privatisation of the power sector just like the telecom industry, Nigeria would be the better for it. All of these today has proven to be a fluke.

“The current situation has put so many people out of business, and taken away from others their means of livelihood. Artisans and small business enterprises (SMEs) that are catalysts for economic development have closed shops due to our incessant power failure. Power is not a luxury but a necessity,” Adeniran emphasised.

Urging Fashola to urgently intervene in the country’s power crisis that keeps taking its toll on the various sectors of the Nigerian economy, Adeniran further called for a review of Nigeria’s power sector policies with a view to enhancing optimum performance.

The country has continued to rely on just about 4,000 megawatts of power and Adeniran thinks more need to be done to up the scale.

“APC should match its words with action because they never said that they are going to make life more difficult for the people.

“The power minister must ensure to tackle the various challenges facing the power sector.

“Furthermore, every Disco should be enforced to meter all its customers. The demand by the distribution companies for cost reflective tariff so as to remain in business should be placed side by side with effective service delivery, after which the issue of tariff increase can now come.“Until we fix our power sector, all the talk about the industrial revolution plans and creating jobs/wealth for Nigerians, will just be mere talks and a waste of time,” he said.

Source: The News.