Enforce Energy Tariff Cut Now


Electricity consumers in Nigeria heaved a sigh
of relief recently when the Federal Govern
ment announced a 50 per cent cut in power tariff. The presidency had directed that the slash should take effect from April 1, 2015.
From all indications, the Power Distribution Companies (DISCOS) are yet to implement the directive. According to reports, they have not been officially communicated of the change by the regulatory body, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).
The eleven electricity distribution companies operating in Nigeria still charge commercial and private consumers on the old order under the Multi-Year Tariff Order (MYTO 2.1) that took effect from January 2015. With the current regime, Nigeria is among the countries with the highest electricity tariff regime. No wonder Nigerians have continued to protest the hike in charges.
The delay by NERC to formerly communicate distribution companies, indeed, have sent confusing message to the people. While some act in disbelief, others perceive the Presidential directives as another political gimmick by the out-going Jonathan’s dispensation.
Sources within the power sector also suggest that the new regime may only affect the productive sector, thereby leaving domestic users to their fate. If there is any truth in this, it simply means an under hand act of rendering the directive of no effect, because it is the domestic consumers that are directly affected.
The Tide notes with dismay how this matter that affects everyone, especially the ordinary people would be treated with such levity. That Nigeria is among countries with the highest tariff should, indeed, worry NERC officials and other relevant organs even as Nigeria has one of the lowest per capita income.
The Federal Government’s directive on the subjects was quite explicit and very clear and needed no endless bureaucracy. That the tariff should be reverted to the old regime is unambiguous and for the DISCOs to seek other ways of recovering their losses is also clear.
It is disturbing to note however, that the arbitrary increases in tariff and other charges contravene the rule that domestic consumers should be charged N15 per kilowatts per hour and industries N32 per kw/hr and this calls for sanctions against erring operators.
It is criminal and unjustifiable to charge N32 per kw/hr across the board, an act that should ordinarily result in refunds. This truly shows that the Federal Government did not actually reduce the tariff but simply corrected the anomaly in the system.
That is why The Tide is demanding that the DISCOs be made to revert to the proper tariff now. It is in the interest of justice and socio-economic activities in Nigeria that this is done immediately. Both the people and the industries need the much talked about enabling environment to thrive as power is key.
We are disturbed that NERC has not issued a clear-cut guidelines on the proper implementation of the rules. It is even more worrisome that the commission recently hinted that most residential customers may not enjoy the benefit of the slash.
The Tide disagrees with NERC and implores the commission to have a re-think and ensure that both residential and commercial customers benefit from the cut. That this is being subjected to some kind of debate is sad. The electricity industry has not been able to satisfy the people yet it demands and collects very high tariff.
While we condemn the failure of NERC to enforce the implementation of that Presidential directive, we think that the Federal Government should pursue the implementation of the tariff cut to the letter.
The Federal Government may need to remind the DISCOs that they increased the tariff unlawfully and should revert quickly or face some sanctions. This must be done now to ensure that sanity prevails in this sector now, especially where the private operators will be too quick to make profit against the good of the people.