A coalition of power consumers and hoteliers in Abuja has called on the Federal Government to reverse the recent hike in electricity and petrol pump price.
At a briefing on Friday, the coalition said the timing was wrong considering the huge effects of COVID-19 pandemic on Nigerians and especially the hospitality industries that are the worst hit.
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The coalition consists of the Nigerian Electricity Consumers Advocacy Network (NECAN), Power Up Initiatives, the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), and Hotel Owners Forum Abuja (HOFA).
Speaking for the groups, the Secretary of NECAN, Uket Obonga, said it took the intervention of the National Assembly and other stakeholders for the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to suspend the July 1 electricity tariff hike while promising that the increment will be done early 2021 when the economy must have improved.
“However, the Federal Government against the resolution of NASS and the industry stakeholders went ahead to increase electricity tariff and also increase pump price of fuel, against the wishes of the people.”
He said the government was misled by the Adhoc Committee on Tariff Review that recommended tariff hike as a silver bullet that would solve the power sector liquidity issues.
“We, therefore, wish to state categorically that we reject the tariff increase of September approved by NERC. We are saying this because there is no provision on ground to cushion the effects,” and that no consultation was held recently by DisCos with consumers.
The coalition lamented the failure of the 11 Distribution Companies (DisCos), to provide meters for customers despite various incentives for them.
The members also noted that the DisCos’ Aggregate Technical, Commercial and Collection (ATC&C) losses remain at 67 per cent, six years after the power privatization.
“A reduction in ATC&C by 50 per cent will automatically increase liquidity by double in the electricity market,” Obonga noted.
They also blamed NERC for lack of data on electricity consumers noting that while there are over 12 million customers the regulator only used 8.5m customers to determine the current tariff, which could have reduced the tariff.
President of HOFA, Eze Udeh, said the 100 per cent rise in tariff has ripple effects as the least hotel pays N500,000 electricity bill monthly and up to N57 million.
“In Abuja, there are about 1,200 hotels employing between 90,000 to 1m workers and with these effects, a huge number of them could be laid off.” He appealed for palliatives and a reversal of the tariff and fuel price.
According to Rabo Sale, president of FTAN, policies are supposed to be made to favour the people.
“What we are saying is that this is not the right time to do it during COVID-19. We will keep pushing and keep complaining until they get it right.”