Nigerian Youth Parliament condemns proposed electricity tariff hike as anti-masses move

By Williams Ago, Gombe

The Nigerian Youth Parliament (NYP) has described the proposed plan to increase electricity tariff by the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) as an anti-masses move capable of throwing Nigerians into more hardship.

Spokesperson of the group, Dr. Azeezat Yishawu, in a press statement, said the planned increase will cause undue hardship to Nigerians coupled with the fact that many are still grappling with the oil subsidy removal.

She said, just like the fuel subsidy removal, the increase in electricity tariff will have direct negetive consequences on every person, business and other key sectors.

According to her, the hike will further tip the socio-economic life of majority of Nigerians to the edge - from small businesses to giant production companies, the health sector, education, and agriculture, especially in the processing and storage chain to mention a few.

Dr. Yishawu who called for the distribution of more prepaid metres to underserved communities, said the increment will hit a heavier blow on the everyday struggling and hard-working Nigerian youths.

She explained that, “as of 2020, only about 50 per cent of Nigerians have access to some sort of electricity and this does not mean adequate regular power supply.

"In 2006, a prepaid meter was introduced to aid revenue collection and discard estimated billing system. However, after 17 years with trillions of Naira in investment, purchase and distribution of these meters by NERC through its various programmes, it is yet to provide prepaid meters to 5 million Nigerians," she decried.

She further revealed that, according to NERC, only about 10 million Nigerians were registered customers in 2022 while about 5 million were using the prepaid meters. 

She lamented that, despite claims by the government to ensure access to prepaid meters through the Meter Asset Providers programme, many Nigerians are still frustrated and exploited by the estimated billing system.

"This Year alone, many Nigerians who have requested this meter still face challenges due to ambiguous delivery systems carried out by distribution companies, coupled with the long waiting periods and technical issues, which prevent customers from using meters when purchased," she decried.

“If the NERC is concerned about generating revenue, it should rather ensure and facilitate procurement and the actual delivery of prepaid meters to Nigerians and increase the number of people who are registered under the agency rather than be a cause of calamity to the Nigerian people. 

Dr. Yishawu noted that, "by making prepaid meters available to more Nigerians, NERC can increase its revenue while ensuring fairness rather than choking 10 million Nigerians who are on their database and allowing for fraudulent bill estimates. 

"Nigerians should also be fully aware, that this proposed action is not necessarily the only available option to NERC as the agency itself is not efficient in its mandate to provide nationwide access to electricity. It will be wise for NERC to discard the tariff increase as a means of increasing revenue,” Yishawu’s statement added.

She then advised that, "in the wake of the new Electricity Act signed by the president, which allows States to generate their electricity, NERC and other related agencies, should deploy strategies that will encourage state licensing to companies that can provide electricity.

"This will promote what I call the electricity market, where one can subscribe to any electricity-providing company based on preference just like you have for Airtime network, cable TV subscription as well as your favourite gadget company. 

"Further Engagement with this potential investor can help with the distribution of prepared meters to new customers just like anyone who is subscribing to cable TV will have a decoder. This method will be quite effective as service providers, can be responsible for their market area, which is usually within a state and can pay for the number of prepared meters purchased from the government", she emphasized.

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