Electricity tariff hike: Amid uproar, DisCos insist Nigerians getting 20hrs power supply

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Amid the uproar over the recent 300 per cent increase in electricity tariff in the country, the power distribution companies, under the aegis of the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), has insisted that some Nigerians get at least 20 hours of supply, which it maintained justifies the hike.

According to the Executive Director of ANED, Mr. Sunday Oduntan, who was speaking last Saturday, electricity customers across the 11 electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) are served 20-24 hours.

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It would be recalled that the Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, in a press briefing, last Friday, had come under heavy backlash over claims that the Federal Government would save 52 per cent on electricity subsidies following the tariff hike for 15 per cent of electricity customers.

Federal government, through the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) had last Tuesday, approved a tariff increase for Band A customers getting at least 20 hours of power supply.

Oduntan also added that the hike affects only the rich in Nigeria, not the poor.

“I am a customer of two discos; when I am in Abeokuta, Egba land, I am not on Band A but Band D, so I get less than 8 hours.

“When I am in Abuja, I live in Sunny City Estate. It is never less than 20 hours per day, I have lived there for ten years.

“NERC should be commended for having the courage to look at the true cost of electricity. What they have done is to remove subsidies for 15 per cent of electricity customers. Why should we be subsidizing electricity for a man, for instance, with Rolls Royce?” He queried.

NERC had announced that 481 feeders across the 11 Discos are currently in Band A, and customers are getting at least 20 hours of power supply.

Meanwhile, Nigerians including opposition political parties and House of Representatives members had earlier berated the Federal Government over its recent approval for a fresh increase in electricity tariffs in the country, even as widespread blackouts pervade parts of the country.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) had, last Tuesday, approved a tariff hike for Band A customers, who enjoy up to 20 hours of power supply.

The rise will see users pay N225 per kilowatt hour and N159 up from the current N66.

NERC’s Vice-chairman, Musliu Oseni, who disclosed this at a press briefing in Abuja, said the increase which takes effect from April 1, would not affect customers on other bands, just as he explained that the hike was due to gas shortage and increase in price.

He further stated that Band A customers made up 15 percent of the Commission’s 12 million customers in Nigeria, stressing that some consumers were being moved to Band B as their electricity distribution companies had failed to provide the required hours of electricity.

He explained that the commission had also downgraded some customers on the Band A to Band B due to non-fulfilment of the required hours of electricity provided by the electricity distribution company.

“We currently have 800 feeders that are categorised as Band A, but it will now be reduced to under 500. This means that 17 percent now qualify as Band A feeders. These feeders only service 15 percent of total electricity customers connected to the feeders” he said.

The commission has earlier issued an order which is titled April supplementary order and the commission allows a 235 kilowatt per hour stating that the review will not affect customers on the other Bands.

The latest increase also comes amid penultimate Monday’s announcement by the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) of an increase in the price of natural gas, which is used to generate more than 70% of electricity in the country.

Meanwhile, reacting to the development, opposition political party, the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), condemned the increase in the electricity tariff paid by Band A customers from N68/KWh to N225/kWh by NERC, describing it as a blow on Nigerians.

PRP’s Acting National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Muhammed Ishaq, who stated this in a statement, said that the action is unacceptable against the backdrop that the hike was coming on the heels of the removal of fuel subsidies and massive devaluation of the Naira, which have brought increases in costs of living and resultant hardship to the populace.

According to Ishaq, PRP is calling on the government to as a matter of urgency to reconsider this decision and prioritize the well-being of its citizens, just as the Party urged the authorities to explore alternative solutions that will not further increase the suffering of Nigerians.

“We urge the authorities to explore alternative solutions that will not further exacerbate the suffering of Nigerians. Government should urgently seriously investing in the exploration and expansion of alternative renewable sources of electricity supply such as solar, bio gas, wind, etc which have the potential of providing cheap and sustainable electric energy to Nigerians for their domestic, economic and industrial needs.”

He added further that the current economic situation demands empathy, understanding and a collective effort to uplift the people, not policies that push them deeper into hardship.

Also reacting to the hike in electricity tariff, Minority Caucus of the House of Representatives, Friday, condemned the move by the NERC, describing the act as insensitive, inhuman, and evil.

According to a statement by the leader of the caucus, Kingsley Chinda, in Abuja, the abrupt hike, which places an unbearable burden on the already strained populace, exacerbating economic hardships and widening the chasm of inequality, is inhumane and must not be tolerated.

He said such a hike, which is over two hundred per cent above the rate of inflation, utterly disregards the plight of ordinary citizens, who are grappling with the adverse effects of the removal of oil subsidy, galloping inflation, unemployment, and inadequate access to basic amenities.

“We note that in the immediate aftermath of the announcement of the tariff hike, NERC claimed that the hike affects only twelve per cent of electricity consumers who enjoy minimum of twenty hours of electricity a day. The truth has become stark that this is stark lie. The hike, according to data put out by the DISCOS, affects all electricity consumers. This habitual resort to deceit and outright lies clearly puts government in bad light and erodes the trust and confidence of the populace in the government.

“The timing of this tariff hike, amidst prevailing economic challenges, is not only insensitive but also detrimental to the well-being of Nigerians. It further highlights the disconnect between policymakers and the realities faced by the masses of our people.

“Elsewhere in the global north, governments are doing all they can to protect citizens against the adverse effects of the pandemic on economies. In the United Kingdom, for example, where anti-subsidy proselytisers preach against subsidies, His Majesty’s Government has “paid almost 40 billion pounds ($50 billion) in energy subsidies since it began to help households and businesses cope with the surge in power bills after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Similarly, former senator representing Kaduna Central at the National Assembly, Shehu Sani in a series of posts via his X handle on Wednesday, Sani explained that the hike in the tariff would affect Nigerians and businesses.

“Increasing electricity tariffs by 300% will finally electrocute human lives and businesses in the country.

“Dollar came down and Electricity tariffs goes up. In Physics, Gravity and Anti-Gravity,” posted the senator.

On its part, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Abuja Chambers of Commerce, and other organizations had, in separate statements, kicked against the new tariff increase.

Meanwhile, Nigerians have also reacted to the development also opinions captured on the X platform.

@AGINAS tweeted:

“People are already losing jobs due to power outages and they still talking about increasing electricity tariffs. Ahhh God! People will soon leave this country and leave politicians in their country alone. NJ.”

@Good_citizins tweeted:

“This government is indeed anti-people. How can you subsidize pilgrimage while electricity which is the engine of production is left to hit the roof.”

@Nwafresh tweeted:

“I just pity people without meter. You won’t see the light but you must pay the bill at month end.. Ehh chimo.”

@iAm_Abdulkarim tweeted:

“They prefer to share palliatives and to subside Hajj fares.”

@realmfonumoh tweeted:

“Government trying to feed from its citizens instead of providing for them.”

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