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Minister Denies Knowledge of Electricity Tariff Increase by NERC

The Minister of State for Power, Goddy Jedy-Agba, yesterday evening denied knowledge of the indiscriminate electricity tariff imposed by Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) on consumers.

The minister who made this known while responding to questions by parliamentary correspondents on the presentation of the NUEE Secretary General on the increase of electricity tariff, said: “Where is the Chairman NERC? He’s the one that do anything on tariff. I can’t speak on tariff. He’s the chairman of NERC that can speak on tariff.”

Earlier, the organised labour had kicked against the over N3 trillion injected by federal government into the privatised electricity companies owned by individuals, without commensurate increase in power generation over the past 10 years.

The Secretary General of NUEE, Joe Ajaero expressed concern during the public hearing on a bill to amend Electric Power Sector Reform Act, 2005, to provide the legal and institutional framework for the implementation and coordination of Rural Electrification projects, establishment of the National Power Training Institute and Regulatory provisions to strengthen the sector for efficient services delivery and for related matters’, held at the instance of House Committee on Power chaired by Hon. Aliyu Magaji.

Ajaero, who argued that the privatisation had further compounded the economic woes, maintained that the exercise was designed to fail from the onset.
He said there has not been meaningful improvement or contribution by the current investors nine years after the privatisation and 17 years after the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, 2005 was signed into law.

While stressing the need to review the entire privatisation exercise, the NUEE scribe said: “Our position on privatisation is clear, but we are worried whether the amendments are critically based on market private public where we belong now. Having tried privatisation for 10 years, and we are doing just the amendment of sections of the act and even the review provision in the act which gives provision for the review of the sector after five years and we have written consistently and it has not happened.

“This Act, are we really obeying it? If there is provision for review after five years, and Nigerians are groaning, consistently Nigerians are complaining and we say privatisation was based on the fact that government doesn’t have any business in it and government is pumping in money to an individual’s business.
“As we speak now, almost N3 trillion has been pumped into the power sector which wasn’t there when it was owned by the government. So what’s the logic to say government has no business in business and government now has to pump and fund the business of another man. And we need to sit down and see what is working for us.

“That is why we came here to say the laws we made by ourselves, we can pause and look at it and move on. As we are speaking today, the issue of tariffs is on, if government is pumping in trillions and Nigerians are being compelled to pay, you can see what is happening, the country is suffering.
“If you put N2 trillion in the economy of Nigeria today, it will thrive, but it is being pumped into businesses owned by individuals. Let’s look at this: What is the cost benefit analysis of this if we have to take our money and go and check the records, for about 10 years before privatisation, government didn’t put 10 per cent of that money into the sector but it’s putting it now.”

In the bid to address myriad of challenges facing the industry, Ajaero underscored the need for review of shareholding of the industry.
In his remarks, Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Magaji, disagreed with the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) over power generation and distribution in the country.

Eyo Ekpo, consultant to NGF had said that said issue of power was not a matter of opinion of the forum or of the states, but a position that rests absolutely on the provisions of the constitution that makes power the concurrent responsibility of the federal government and the states.
But, Magaji said lawmakers were in a position to ensure whether or not the action of the NGF is in consonant with the law or constitutional framework for power generation and distribution in the country..

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