- Orders NERC, DISCOs to revert to old rates
A Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi has directed the immediate reversal of the 45 percent increase in electricity tariff by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC.
Moreover, this ruling could have given the position of the House of Representatives on the power situation in the country so far some justification, as it at plenary yesterday averred that planned privatisation of the power sector was a “scam.”
The court in its ruling on Wednesday described the increment as illegal, adding that its implementation is a violation of its interim order.
The Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, which has been in opposition to the hike, described the court’s ruling as “courageous and deserving of commendation.”
In a statement by the labour president, Ayuba Wabba, he said: “We also consider it victory for the ordinary Nigerian who has been crushed by exploitative bills.”
The court further in its ruing awarded a fine of N50,000 against NERC and ordered it along with DISCOs to obey the judgement and revert to the old rates.
Planned privatisation a scam
Meanwhile, members of the House of Representatives yesterday called on the federal government to halt its plan to increase electricity tariff by 100 percent, describing the entire privatisation of the power sector “as a jamboree and the biggest scam” in the country.
The resolution followed a motion of urgent national importance sponsored by Hon. Ali Madaki (APC, Kano) titled ‘Illegal 100% Tariff Hike by Electricity Firms in Nigeria.’
In his lead debate, Madaki drew the attention of the lawmakers on the 100 percent planned electricity hike by distribution companies (DISCOs) without correspondent increase in power supply.
He recalled that the House had in the past opposed such hike on the ground that it was illegal and brought a lot of hardship on the masses.
The lawmaker reminded the House that the DISCOS had earlier promised to inject a lot of money into the system when they acquired the infrastructure, but had now gone round siphoning money from Nigerians for services not rendered.
Madaki therefore challenged the House to uncover how much the DISCOS had so far injected into the system and also unveil the extent to which they connive with Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Company, NERC, to short-change Nigerians.
In his contribution, the House Majority Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila said that no country privatises an infrastructure as basic as power.
He argued that even when it becomes inevitable, government would have opted for institutional privatisation rather than handing such a critical sector to individuals that lacked both the financial muscle and the technical know-how to turn it around.
“The DISCOs as we have it today is the biggest scam in Nigeria. The contracts should be revoked as they do not have the financial capacity neither do they have the technical know-how.
“In developed economies, you do not privatise your major livewire. Even if there is need to get investors, we should get institutional investors (and) not just private business entrepreneur,” he stressed.
He reminded his colleagues that there were several resolutions of the House as well as court judgements against such a hike which had not been complied with.
Speaking also on the motion, Hon. Ahmed Chanchangi acknowledged that power remains a basic necessity that should not be given the leeway for arbitrary increase in tariff.
In his views, Hon. Philip Shuaibu advocated that a special committee led by the speaker be set up for a comprehensive investigation of the extent at which the loan DISCOs recently obtained from the central bank was utilised.
He noted that incessant increase in tariff could not get the companies out of the present logjam unless something drastic was done.
In its resolution, the House insisted that the planned increase was not pro-people, adding that the electorate must be protected from unnecessary increase in power.
The matter was later referred to the House Committee on Power to investigate the rationale behind the last increase in electricity tariff by DISCOs.