The United Nations has criticised the Federal Government for failing to provide improved power supply to millions of Nigerians.
It also condemned the government’s inability to offer effective electricity metering system.The UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Ms. Magdalena Carmona, and the Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination, Ms. Raquel Rolnik, signed a petition in which they criticised the government.
A statement from the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project on Sunday said the two rapporteurs blamed the government of President Goodluck Jonathan “over the impact of the Multi-Year Tariff Order II and its potential detrimental impact on the realisation of human rights of people living in extreme poverty in Nigeria.”
A check on UN website confirmed the petition.
Their intervention, the statement said, followed a petition lodged in 2013 by a coalition of human rights activists, labour leaders, journalists and lawyers led by SERAP.
In the joint letter with reference number NGA 5/2013, and dated November 26, 2013, Carmona and Rolnik wondered why the Federal Government had failed to provide a “functioning metering system in the country.”
They also noted that the absence of the system “limits the ability to accurately set prices for electricity and leaves electricity bills vulnerable to mismanagement and arbitrary decisions, disproportionately affecting people living in poverty.”
The two special rapporteurs also stated, “Certain groups already vulnerable to poverty and social exclusion, including women heads of households and persons living in informal settlements and in rural areas, may be especially affected by the rise in tariffs under the MYTO II enacted by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission on 1 June 2012.”
SERAP claimed that it received information from the offices of the special rapporteurs last week that “the government has chosen not to respond or engage with the concerns raised by them.”
The Executive Director, SERAP, Mr. Adetokunbo Mumuni, said, “We applaud the positive steps taken by the special rapporteurs to respond to the deplorable effects of the privatisation of electricity and the poor service delivery in this sector on millions of Nigerians living in poverty. Their action shows the important role these institutions can play to improve the conditions of those who live in extreme poverty.”
“But it is unfortunate the government can’t even be bothered to send a response to the query by the special rapporteurs. This shows this government’s contempt not just for the UN institutions, but for the rights of Nigerians. It also calls into question the government’s international human rights obligations and commitments, and its role as a member of the UN.”
SERAP urged the National Assembly to condemn the government’s action and insist that it must engage the special rapporteurs on the matter to reduce the increasing negative effects of the policy on the poor and disadvantaged Nigerians.
Other signatories to the petition sent to the special rapporteurs in September last year were the Nigerian Guild of Editors, the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, Women Empowerment and Legal Aid Initiative and Partnership for Justice.
The list also include the Education Rights Campaign, Nigerian Union of Journalists, Lagos State Council; Nigerian Labour Congress, Lagos, and Nigeria Bar Association, Ikeja Branch. [Punch]