The federal government and the leadership of the National Assembly have reached an agreement on the need to halt the planned hike in electricity tariffs from July 1, 2020.
The agreement was reached on Tuesday after the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, held meetings with President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
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Already, the leadership of the National Assembly had on Monday succeeded in convincing the Distribution Companies (DISCOs) to defer the plan to increase the electricity tariffs till the first quarter of 2021.
Gbajabiamila, while briefing State House reporters after a meeting with the Vice President, said the meetings were necessary so that everybody would be on the same page.
He said everybody agreed with the policy but was not comfortable with the timing of its implementation.
The speaker, while reacting to the planned hike of electricity tariffs and the DISCOs’ complaints of operating under heavy financial burden, said: “Let me just say that we saw the President earlier this morning (Tuesday morning) and we have seen the Vice President today. The whole idea is that when there is a major policy decision, it is always good that the legislature and the executive are on the same page so that we don’t sing different tunes.
“I will like to say that I think we have all agreed on an increase in cost-reflective tariff but the issue is that the timing is also important.
“Sometimes, timing is more important than even the policy decision that you make. There is a saying that the road to hell is often paved with good intentions. So, the intention is good but what about the timing.
“We have all agreed to suspend this for a while, tarry a while and get the buy-in of the people, explain to the people why this has to be done.
“I think so far so good, the President listened attentively, the Vice President listened attentively and I think everybody is on the same page and hopefully, we will get some reprieve between now and whenever. But it’s not going to happen today.”
Senate President, while speaking earlier, said the announcement in the increase of electricity tariff in Nigeria was untimely.
Lawan said before the increase of electricity tariffs, some measures must be put in place like metering of all consumers, adding that the vice president welcomes the idea.
He said: “We have come to visit our Vice President, one of our leaders in connection with the impending electricity tariff in the country.
“The joint leadership of the National Assembly sat on Monday with DISCOs and Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).
“We believe that this is not the right time to increase the tariff in the electricity sector.
“Nigerians have a lot of challenges today because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the situation requires that we do everything possible to make life easy for our citizens”