The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, told the Senate yesterday that there was no going back on the implementation of the 45 per cent increase in electricity tariff already in progress. According to NERC, the decision to increase the tariffs is to ensure that the power sector become revived, and that removing tariff will worsen the power problem in the country.
This was disclosed yesterday by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola and the Acting Chairman, CEO of NERC, Dr. Anthony Akah, when they appeared before the Joint Senate Committee on Labour, Employment and Productivity as well as Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy.
The Committees are chaired by Senators Suleiman Nazif and James Manager. All the senators urged the federal government to put an end to rhetorics and put in place serious action that would provide electricity to Nigerians, adding that what Nigerians expected from the government of change was the provision of basic services as electricity. Addressing the lawmakers, Fashola noted that only the NERC had the powers to fix tariffs in line with the law passed by the National Assembly.
He said as a minister, he didn’t do it and asked Nigerians to put behind them the past and move the country forward by keying into the agenda of the federal government. Also yesterday, the Senate and organized Labour carpeted Electricity Distribution Companies, DISCOs and generation companies, GENCOs, over what they termed exploitation of the people and failure to provide services commensurate with the money collected from Nigerians.
Speaking further, Fashola explained that the regulatory power of the sector had also been placed on National Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, by an Act of Parliament, hence his job was to line up behind what NERC was doing. The minister said he was in support of the hike in electricity tariff by the commission which came into effect three months ago and generated public outcry from Nigerians.
He said: “The real actor here is NERC, NERC is the only body by the law that you enacted that fixes tariff, not the minister, not the ministry. ‘’ That is the independence that we created since the electricity sector reform Act 2005. It was a landmark legislation, the more I read that legislation, the more I salute the parliamentarians who debated that legislation. “Of course, every legislation is often times limited to the circumstance of those who made it. That is why there are amendments from time to time but up to last night, I still referred to that legislation preparing our rural electrification plan and the rural electrification form and that legislation seems to have addressed many things. ‘’Let me say again for the purpose of those who will benefit from this public hearing that today, there is no PHCN anymore and we must migrate because we have moved on from it.