The recently announced intention of the Federal Government to increase electricity tariff in the country has sparked reactions from various quarters with many expressing opposition to the plan.
Niger Delta Assembly, a non-governmental organization, described the plan as premature and a contradiction of the people-oriented posture of the President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
National President of the assembly, Prince Samuel Ogba, who spoke to The Tide over the weekend in Port Harcourt, said “it is too early for the administration to begin to give consideration to the idea of increasing electricity tarriff without properly positioning the power sector.”
Prince Ogba, who commended the present administration for the improvement recently noticed in power supply is of the view that President Jonathan, who also is the power minister, should get the power sector well reformed first.
He added that it is only when that has been properly achieved that the idea of increase in the tariff could come.
The assembly president observed that Dr. Jonathan’s popularity has swelled since his emergence as a president because of the fact that his programmes and policies indicate considerable sensitivity to the feelings of the generality of Nigerians but regretted that the plan to increase electricity tariff is one policy that smacks insensitivity to Nigerian masses who would be adversely affected when such policy is implemented.
“I advise the president to be weary of those giving him such ill-advice because it is capable of deeming the good image of his administration,” he said.
Chief Omoka John, a Port Harcourt-based hoteler, who also reacted on the issue said, the planned increase is uncalled for, in view of the benefit government wants to achieve on its power sector reform.
“If the idea of the power reform is to reactivate good business and social life in the country, then talking about tariff increase in electricity at this early period of the reform contradicts the intended good benefit to the people,” he said.
The hoteler noted that such move has the capacity to raise doubt in the minds of the people, and appealed to the president to prevail on the authorities concerned to drop the idea.
Another consumer, Clifford Okwaraji, who also spoke in similar note, described it as the most horrible idea ever muted by the present administration.
According to him, “if the aim of the power reform for which government is recording noticeable success is to wake up moribund small and medium scale industries incapacitated by poor power supply, then the idea of increase in tariff is one done in a haste and inimical to the good people of Nigeria.”
Mrs Balogun Kemi, a Lagos-based bakery operator accepted that the increase in tariff could attract more investors but doubted if such move would lead to improvement in electricity supply in the country.
She rather suggested that the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) should raise the country’s electricity generation and distribution capacity substantially before contemplating an increase.
She recommended a thorough cleansing in Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), and accused some workers of being corrupt as electricity consumers were being slammed with crazy bills because of either incompetence on the part of PHCN officials or deliberate effort to exploit consumers.
It would be recalled that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had condemned the planned increase of electricity tariff, describing it as an expression of insensitivity and absolutely unacceptable by the congress.
The General Secretary of NLC, Comrade John Odah, in a statement in Abuja, had advised President Goodluck Jonathan to reverse the policy, saying it is a wrong advise.
The congress maintained that if implemented, it would amount to a death sentence being passed on the few industries that are managing to survive, and advised the government to first improve the nation’s generation and distribution capacity before contemplating rise in tariff.
Stakeholders Want Policies To Harness Gas Resources
An earlier plan by the defunct Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) to equalise the consumption of gas, especially Liquefied Petroleum Gas may no longer fly as the government said subsidising the transport cost of the commodity in the face of a liberal market may not work.
This is just as stakeholders were demanding for deliberate policies that would enable the country to harness gas resources to benefit from the global energy transition agenda.
While the defunct PEF had disclosed earlier this year that a scheme to pay for the transportation of gas as part of an effort to encourage the use of cooking gas in homes across the country was being considered, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) said such a move may be unnecessary.
Executive Director, Distribution System, Storage and Retail Infrastructure at NMDPRA, Ogbugo Ukoha said although Nigeria has gas in large quantities, bottlenecks undermine realisation of full potential.
Speaking in Abuja recently on equalisation for gas, Uhoha said: “the Act provides for liberalisation. We can’t set prices, we can’t equalise it.”
According to him, the market would stabilise at some point and deal with prevailing issues. The Independent Petroleum Producers Group (IPPG), headed by Abdulrazaq Isa, has also noted the right policies were necessary if Nigeria would benefit from its gas resources.
Stressing on the evolving industry landscape, ongoing industry reforms, IOCs’ divestment, and the role indigenous exploration and production companies can play in this new era in guaranteeing the nation’s energy security, Isa said: “Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind in view of the global energy transition agenda. Natural gas should be considered as a transition fuel with deliberate policies formulated to attract investment into the sector.”
While noting that the PIA enactment will set a solid growth foundation for the entire industry, the IPPG Chairman said it was imperative that effective regulations are formulated to derive the full benefits of the Act.
According to Isa, ‘’industry-wide consultation in the enactment of regulations is required to promote inclusivity and ensure robustness of regulations’’.
The IPPG Chairman also identified key challenges being faced by the industry in the areas of security, funding, high operating costs, lengthy contract cycle, amongst others.
’’We look forward to collaborating with the NUPRC in finding long lasting and sustainable solutions to these challenges,’’ Isa said.
Obasanjo Makes Case For Renewable Energy For Power Generation
Nigeria’s former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has urged the country to embrace renewable energy for power generation.
Obasanjo, who led the country as military Head of State between 1975 and 1979 and civilian President from 1999 to 2007, made the call, last Friday at the inauguration of a two megawatts, MW, solar power project at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital,
He said solar energy is remarkably cost effective as it costs less than two and half years’ supply of diesel to power the generators at the Library and that the project marks one of the enduring personal legacies he is proud to call his own.
“Today, I am speaking to you in a facility powered by the sun – solar energy. It is the way of a future Carter envisioned all those years ago. It will help build the future we want. The Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library solar power project is a reflection of our commitment to clean and renewable energy and is the single largest investment this not-for-profit organization has made.
“As large an investment as it is, it is remarkably cost effective. It costs less than two and half years supply of diesel to power our generators. So in diesel terms it pays for itself in less than 3years. So in effect the electricity it produces after three years is almost at no cost,” Obasanjo said.
He noted that solar energy does not emit any green house gases that diesel generators do, and that, as such, it has the potential to earn carbon credits which are currently priced at US$40 per ton.
He added: “Based on estimated annual production of 2,307,000 kilo Watt hours per year, we can expect to earn nearly US$39,589 in carbon credits per year.
“By monetising this facility with strategic sponsorships and marketing alliances we will be able to generate revenue.
“Combined, this solar facility can generate electricity, generate revenues that contribute to the upkeep of the library, help save the planet making a small contribution to climate mitigation and adaptation, provide shade for parking, and be an inspiration for future generations. Who says you can’t make a profit out of saving the planet?”
CSOs To Hold Confab On Fuel Subsidy Removal
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Nigeria operating under the aegis of Civil Society Coalition for Economic Development (CED), on Thursday, said plans were afoot to organise a conference on ‘Fuel subsidy removal’ in Nigeria.
The coalition, which comprised 82 groups, disclosed this at a press conference in Abuja on Thursday, stressing that they were committed to pushing for subsidy removal as well as engaging other stakeholders in some sectors of the economy to see reasons with the government on the need to lay fuel subsidy payment to rest.
The convener of the group, Comrade Yusuf Dan Maitama, further said that the proposed theme of the conference is “Subsidy removal and the Future of Nigeria’s Economy,” adding that there was no better time for the total removal of fuel subsidy than now given the economic challenges the nation is going through.
According to the coalition, the conference which is slated for Tuesday and Wednesday next week will take place in Abuja and Lagos, featuring world-class resource persons in the oil and gas sector in order to refocus activities of Nigeria’s oil and gas sector and to secure the nation’s resources for its critical mass rather than private pocket benefactors.
The coalition lamented that the fuel subsidy regime which had been in place for the past 20 years, has enriched a few individuals and denied citizens of what was supposed to be a collective wealth, adding that moves by the present administration to end the subsidy regime were the right step.
Citing further reasons for the conference, the coalition posited that the Nigeria National Petroleum Company’s commitment to implementing a policy that ensures total removal of subsidy should be supported by all.
“The fuel subsidy regime has in the last 20 years done more harm than good to the economy of the nation and it appears Nigeria is the only country in the world that has a fuel subsidy regime in place.
“We have slated a conference for Tuesday and Wednesday, 2022 and we are going to assemble top class oil experts to speak on reasons fuel subsidy regime should be put to rest,” the group said.
Recall that the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, had a few days ago disclosed to the Senate Committee on Finance that the Federal government would offer a N5,000 transportation grant to poor Nigerians to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal in 2022.
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