NIGERIA’S federal government has directed the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (Nerc) to suspend the recently adjusted electricity tariff in response to a national outrage over the recent decision to hike them.
On Tuesday, the NERC had increased the electricity tariff payable by power consumers across the country based on different consumer classes, with from January 1, 2021. It blamed the N2 to N4 adjustment in tariff on inflation and movement in foreign exchange rates but the decision attracted widespread condemnation nationwide.
In response, labour unions threatened a showdown, saying the government was insensitive to the plight of Nigerians, considering the fact that there was an increment last two months. Nigeria is facing a severe economic meltdown as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, with unemployment on the rise and government revenue severely depleted.
As a result, power minister Sale Mamman, said there was a committee working on the new electricity tariff regime and the committee should be allowed to complete its work before any development or adjustment. He directed the Nerc to suspend the recent increment until the committee concludes its work by end of January.
Mr Mamman said: “The public is aware that the federal government and the labour centres have been engaged in positive discussions about the electricity sector through a joint ad-hoc committee led by the minister of state for labour and productivity and co-chaired by the minister of state for power. Great progress has been made in these deliberations which are set to be concluded at the end of January, 2021.
“To promote a constructive conclusion of the dialogue with the labour centres through the joint ad-hoc committee, I have directed Nerc to forestall the implementation of the duly performed minor review which adjusted tariffs between N2 per kWh and N4 per kWh until the conclusion of the committee’s work at the end of January 2021. This will allow for the outcome of all resolutions from the committee to be implemented together, as this administration is committed to creating a sustainable, growing, and rules-based electricity market for the benefit of all Nigerians.”
Nigeria’s federal government has said there is still a subsidy of 55% on the electricity consumed by customers in bands D and E, who are served less than an average of 12 hours of supply per day. Describing such reports as inaccurate and false, Mr Mamman lamented the confusion it has generated within the public.
He said: “On the 5th of January, 2021, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission issued a statement regarding erroneous and false reports by print and electronic media that approval had been granted for a 50% increase in tariff. I would like to affirm that these reports are inaccurate and false and it is unfortunate that these reports have led to confusion within the public.
“On the contrary, the Nigerian government continues to fully subsidise 55% of on-grid consumers in bands D and E and maintain the life line tariff for the poor and underprivileged. Those citizens have experienced no changes to tariff rates from what they have paid historically, aside from the recent minor inflation and forex adjustment.