THE Senate on Tuesday, February 16, told the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, to stop the 45 percent tariff increase being implemented by electricity distribution companies.
This followed a deadlock in discussions between the Senate leadership on the one hand and Babatunde Fashola, minister of Power, Works and Housing, as well as Chris Ngige, minister of e Labour and Employment.
The Senate has expressed reservations over the increase based on public outcry, and asked the NERC to maintain the status quo, pending further deliberations with the ministers.
The motion to suspend the implementation of the new tariff was moved by Suleiman Nazif, a APC senator from Bauchi.
Nazif argued that considering current economic realities, it was unrealistic to increase electricity tariffs.
Supporting the motion, Ike Ekweremadu, deputy Senate president, said Nigerians were already on life support and urged his colleagues to reject the new increment and stand with Nigerians.
Dino Melaye, chairman Senate committee on Federal Capital Territory, FCT, arguing against the increase said: “This increase makes it the fourth time that electricity tariffs will be up after the privatisation of the power sector. Their excuse has always been that they want to improve on the electricity. There was a time that the government gave loans to distribution and generation companies to buy metres and give to customers. They are yet to pay back that loan.
“We need to take a stand and mandate the government to reduce the tariffs. There was no negotiation with the Senate or the Labour. They arbitrarily increased the tariffs and expect us not to talk.”
Bukola Saraki, Senate president, consequently mandated the committees on Labour and Power to meet with agencies of government to find a lasting solution after public hearings on the matter.
Saraki said: “NERC should forthwith suspend the implementation of the new tariff. I believe that when we have a public hearing, these issues will be addressed. Until then, the new regime stands suspended.”
— Feb 17, 2016 @ 14:35 GMT