Nigeria electricity distribution companies have implemented the over 40 per cent increase in electricity tariffs despite protests against the development by consumers and labour unions as well as a directive by the Senate to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission to suspend the hike.
This is coming as consumers have kicked against the increase after some of them received their bills for the month of March, which showed an astronomical rise in their various electricity tariffs.
The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria described the increase in tariffs as evil and reiterated its position against moves by NERC as well as the distribution and generation companies to increase raise the rates.
Consumers, who spoke at a forum organized by the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company on Saturday wondered why the Discos would raise electricity tariffs beyond the abilities of their customers to pay.
A consumer at the forum, Nwachukwu Ngige, said his bill was increased from about N89,000 in February to N285,132 in March.
“Please tell me sir, how am I expected to cope with this kind of bill?” he asked the AEDC Regional Manager, who simply gave his name as Mr. D. Ibrahim.
Another customer, a hotel manager, who identified himself simply as Mr. Ogbulafor, said, “My own bill was increased from about N110,000 in February to over N400,000 in March. For crying out loud, I do not have the capacity to pay this bill.
“And why are the power firms increasing bills when the Senate has directed that the increase be suspended till there is visible improvement in supply?”
In his response, the AEDC regional manager pleaded with the visibly angry customers to try and visit the firm’s office for further clarification, but noted that the power firms did not disobey the directive of the Senate, as they were still consulting with the National Assembly on the matter.
Also reacting on the issue, the TUC said in a statement signed by its President, Bobboi Kaigama, that the increase in electricity tariffs was anti-people and lacked every sense of logicality, hence the protests and picketing of offices of the NERC and the electricity distribution companies throughout the country.
The TUC said, “At a meeting held with officials of the NERC last Thursday, March 17, 2016, the congress described as lame the argument in some quarters that an Act of the National Assembly actually empowers the commission to unilaterally increase tariffs and that the Act cannot be tampered with even by the federal parliament.
“For us, any Act, policy or idea, if you like, that does not consider the poor masses is undemocratic and evil. It is evil because it further impoverishes the masses.
“Naturally, our thinking is that business is all about investment and profit, and not the other way round. Every business has its gestation period before it starts generating profit; unfortunately the NERC and the investors do not want to go through the pains. Again, if they need contributions from people to invest, it automatically makes the people shareholders of the companies. For the NERC, the Discos and Gencos to give the consumers crazy bills in order to muster enough money without making them partners is unacceptable.”