CARE DEMANDS REVERSAL OF POWER SECTOR PRIVATISATION
It was widely reported that President Buhari had ordered the mass metering of Nigerians to end estimated billing. It was also reported that there will not be tariff increment except through ‘service-based principles’. The positions were made public through a tweet by James Momoh, the Chairman of Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC). It is worthy to note and state with emphasis that the statement does not remove the clause that consumers are to pay for the metres as it is widely insinuated by many.
Coalition for Affordable and Regular Electricity (CARE) see these public pronouncements as mischievous, a ruse and lacking any concrete plan to resolve the very extortionist and exploitative estimated billing policy. The only thing government stated in response to estimated billing was the President’s approved waiver of import levy on meters, which is incapable of metering 5 million consumers. We want to remind Nigerians that the Meter Asset Providers (MAP) have been licensed by NERC and the federal government to sell meters to Nigerians at exorbitant prices and this policy is still in place. For instance, Ikeja Electric has hiked the price of meter from N39,765.86 and N72,085.68 for single-phase and three-phase metres respectively to N48,263.37 and N89,063.33. Going by these exorbitant and unwarranted charges, it is clear that the vast majority who are suffering under the weight of the rising cost of living engendered by anti-poor and neo-liberal policies will not be able to procure these meters.
We maintain our earlier position that the provision of meters is the sole responsibility of the Distribution Companies because it is a means of measuring supply and should not be the responsibility of the consumers who pay for electricity consumed. Besides, the cost of metering had been embedded in the tariff hike of MYTO 2012 that came into effect on June 1, 2012. How on earth the government and NERC turned 180 degrees and came out with a policy that unjustly forces the consumers to pay for meters is mindboggling? This shows the level of travesty and crude exploitation; President Buhari or NERC has not reversed the MAP policy and has not stated clearly how it wants to meter 5 million households either. This pronouncement is one of the many wishful thinking meant to play to the gallery and deceive Nigerians.
On tariff reviews, President Buhari and NERC have not reversed or canceled the new tariff but only suspended it till January 2021 on the persuasion of the National Assembly in June 2020. The service-based tariff principles being espoused by President Buhari and NERC is already being implemented by the Distribution Companies across the federation. For instance, Ikeja Electric runs a policy called Premium Power that gives much more regular electricity supply of 20 hours on the average and customers are made to pay as high as N55 per kilowatt. Premium Power targets rich neighbourhoods like Magodo, Hiltop Estate etc., while the poorer communities are condemned to darkness. Service-based principles negate the principles of fairness and equality, it is apartheid, it is discriminatory and it violates section 14, 15, 17 and 42 of the 1999 Constitution as well as Section 76 (2e) of Electric Power Sector Reform Act, 2005 which outlaws any form of undue discrimination between electricity consumers and other electricity consumer categories including discrimination of any kind.
The electricity sector had gulped over $25 billion public funds since 2005 without any meaningful improvement, most of these public funds have only fattened the bank accounts of the rich few, particularly the private electricity companies and the cronies in government. Should these huge funds be utilized efficiently, the power sector would have been improved considerably with its attendant drastic improvement in electricity supply and affordability in the tariff.
Coalition for Affordable and Regular Electricity (CARE) demands the reversal of the power sector privatization, because as usual, it serves the interest of a few at the expense of the vast majority; we demand affordable tariff; we demand mass public investment in the power sector and ISSUANCE OF PREPAID METERS TO ALL AT NO COST TO CONSUMERS.
To bring about transparency and efficiency, we demand the RENATIONALIZATION of the power sector under democratic control and management of workers and consumers.
Chinedu Bosah ShoyomboMonsuru
National Coordinator National Secretary