Electricity consumers, Labor unions and key stakeholders in the economy on Tuesday kicked against increase in electricity tariff implemented by power distribution companies across the country on Tuesday.
Those that spoke to The Punch on the tariff adjustments included the Nigeria Labour Congress which vowed to resist the increase, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria which said the hike could precipitate recession in the third quarter of the year, the and the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The NLC said the hike would further impoverish Nigerians.
The congress argued that the implementation of the new tariff on Tuesday was despite the resolution of the Senate and the direct orders of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), that the decision by the electricity distribution companies on tariff should be suspended until further notice.
NERC and the Discos had said that the new service reflective tariff took effect from September 1 (Tuesday).
The Discos said on Tuesday that electricity customers, except those receiving less than 12 hours of supply, would have to pay more.
With the review, the tariffs being charged residential consumers receiving a minimum of 12 hours of power supply has increased by over 70 per cent.
The NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, said the move would be resisted and cautioned the DISCOs against going ahead with the implementation of the new electricity tariff.
He stated this in a statement on Tuesday titled ‘Increase in electricity tariff by Abuja DISCO – A taunting of the will of the Nigerian people gone too far’.
Wabba said, “The DISCOs appear to have given themselves the ignoble tasks of taunting and testing the will of the Nigerian people.
“Abuja DISCO has adorned the robe of the protagonist with its recent announcement of a new tariff plan for electricity consumers within the sphere of its service area.
“This move is despite the resolution of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and even the direct orders of Mr President himself that the plans by DISCOs to hike electricity tariff should be suspended until further notice.
“We are not aware of any order by the government or the elected representatives of the Nigerian people de-freezing the order to suspend any plans to inflict more pocket and psychological trauma on Nigerians by way of reckless and insensitive hike in electricity tariff.”
The union pointed out that since the unbundling of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria, electricity tariffs through the Multi-Year Tariff Order had been increased a number of times without accompanying improvement in services.
“Each hike in electricity tariff in Nigeria is trailed by huge leap in the hours of darkness, de-metering of more Nigerians, exponential rise in incidences of estimated billing, and increased burden on citizens for the procurement of equipment and facilities for public electricity supply amidst other devious methods by DISCOs to cheat, exploit and despoil poor Nigerians,” Wabba said.
The NLC boss said it totally rejected any plan to inflict further pain on Nigerians “at this very time of great economic distress,” insisting that “the new dribble by the Abuja DISCO is dead on arrival as it will be resisted by the Nigerian working class and people.”
It warned other DISCOs not to bother “putting their ships of exploitation to sail.”
The congress equally expressed concern on the “deaf and dumb posture” of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission.
The union added, “It is important to put it on record that NERC would be putting its name on the wrong side of history if it continues to play the Ostrich while a group of portfolio investors make a blood meal of Nigerians.
“Nigerian electricity consumers need the NERC to speak up and act in the defense of the rights of the Nigerian people.”
“Following consultations and directions on tariff policy, the commission hereby approves a deferment of the applicable tariffs for customers in service bands D and E (that is customers with a service commitment of less than an average of 12 hours supply per day over a period of one month) for the period September 1, 2020 to January 1, 2021,” NERC said in a document seen by The PUNCH.
It said the Discos would only be allowed to charge those customers the new tariffs upon investments that improve the quality of service experience, “thus migrating customers to higher service bands or another order of the commission.”
According to NERC and the Discos, the new tariff is based on the hours of electricity supply available to the customers.