The threat and determination by the electricity distribution company in Nigeria to increase electricity tariffs for Nigerian consumers are giving the arms of Nigerian government sleepless nights. It is therefore not surprising that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja met with Senate President, Ahmed Lawan and Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, over the proposed increase in electricity tariff.

Osinbajo, who heads the Power Sector Reform Coordination Working Group is said to be lobbying the Discos to suspend their plan increase until a more conducive period. The National Assembly on its own is desperate to force the discos to hold down their planned increase.

The assembly in a statement on Monday said its leadership had agreed with the DisCos to suspend the planned increase this however could not be confirmed from the combatants’ discos since no joint communiqué was held between them and the NASS.

Lawan, who spoking with State House correspondents after meeting, the Senate President Ahmed Lawan insisted that the increase was untimely as necessary parameters should be on the ground before such hike.

According to him “The joint leadership of the National Assembly sat yesterday with the DISCOs and Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and we believe that it is not the right time to increase the tariffs in the electricity today. “Nigerians have a lot of challenges to bear because of COVID 19 pandemic and the situation requires that we should do everything possible to make life easy for our citizens and of course, the government is doing a lot in this respect.

`We believe that the DISCOs should continue to engage with their consumers; find better cost-reflective tariffs; but before then, there must some steps to ensure that the consumers are properly metered. “Otherwise, you still be guessing what consumers are consuming; that is to say, let the billing be very scientifically based; it has to be based on what you actually consume.

“So, we had this discussion with the vice president and we are sure that that announcement of an increase in electricity tariff in Nigeria in untimely. “We believe that we need to do more work to ensure that before any increase, there must be some measures; some steps and some line of actions that must be exhausted including the metering and this is a welcome idea to the vice president as well.’’

Electricity Grid in Nigeria

He said that to stabilise power supply, the Share Purchase Agreement signed between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the DISCOs at the point of privatisation must be adhered to. According to him, DISCOs are businesses hence they must do everything possible to provide services.

“ When they provide services, efficient and effective services to consumers, then they can make money; but in the process as a government, we too must ensure that we discharge our obligations in the Shared Purchase Agree signed.“Once we are able to achieve that, we will have a better situation in the power sector in Nigeria; it is doable; it has happened elsewhere.

“So, we cannot continue to give DISCOs and GENCOs the resources that we will ordinarily deploy in building schools and hospitals but whatever is necessary for us to do as part of our agreement with them, we must do.’’

NAN