The Senate has asked the federal government to, as a matter of urgency, intervene and halt the proposed increase in electricity tariff by the 11 Distribution Companies (Discos) in the country.
It also stressed the need to allow ordinary Nigerians to breathe, insisting that anything that would bring untold hardship to the citizens would be rejected in all its ramifications.
The Upper chamber equally asked the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, to decentralise the proposed engagement with stakeholders scheduled for Abuja to the six geopolitical zones of the Federation for effective participation by all.
The resolutions came on a day the House of Representatives asked the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, to compel Discos to discontinue the extortive practice of estimated/arbitrary billing with immediate effect.
The Senate’s resolutions were sequel to a motion, titled “Need to Halt the Proposed Increase in Electricity Tariff by Eleven Successor Electricity Distribution Companies (Discos),” sponsored by Senator Yunus Abiodun Akintunde, APC,Oyo Central, and co-sponsored by Senators Ekpenyong Asuquo, APC, Cross River South and Aminu Iya Abbas, PDP, Adamawa Central.
It also urged the NERC to thoroughly look into the rate review applications filed by the Discos, taking into consideration the interests of citizens, affordability and the need for improved service delivery;
The Upper chamber further asked NERC to explore alternative measures to address the financial challenges faced by Discos, such as improving operational efficiency, reducing technical and commercial losses, and enhancing revenue collection mechanisms.
It asked the Discos to, henceforth, discontinue estimated billing and make available to all electricity consumers prepaid meters at affordable prices.
The Senate, thereafter, mandated the Committee on Power (when constituted) to engage with the Federal Ministry of Power, NERC, and other stakeholders to find lasting solutions to the challenges facing the Nigerian electricity sector, including the need for comprehensive sector reforms.
In his presentation, Senator Akintunde maintained that the Discos had no justification for the proposed tariff hike, especially as the price of natural gas had not been reviewed.
He, however, noted that the proposed increase would significantly impact the affordability of electricity and further impoverish the lives of average Nigerians.
Senator Akintunde said, among others: “The Senate observes that 11 successor electricity distribution companies, Discos, have filed an application for rate review with the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC.”
On its part, the House of Representatives urged the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, to compel the Distribution Companies, DisCos, to stop the extortive practice of estimated/arbitrary billing with immediate effect.
The legislators recommended that the companies be reprimanded for the abysmal provision of services to Nigerian electricity consumers.
The resolution was a sequel to a unanimous adoption of a motion by Afuape Moruf at the plenary yesterday.
Moving the motion earlier, Moruf noted that the Electricity Act, of 2023 prescribed a comprehensive and institutional framework to guide the operation of a privatised, contract, and rule-based electricity market.
The lawmaker said it was within the ambit of which every participant in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry, NESI, must operate.
He further stated that NERC, as NESI’s regulator had, among other obligations, to ensure an adequate supply of electricity to consumers.
According to him, it is expected to ensure that prices charged are fair to consumers, though sufficient to allow the finances of Disco’s activities, as well as enable them to make reasonable profit for efficient operation.
Moruf said the 11 Electricity Distribution Companies, Discos, were entities established by the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, 2005, to supply electricity to power consumers, with obligations to the respective operational areas.
He said the companies had the statutory duties to provide for power transmission facilities and other ancillary services to ensure reliability and support the transmission of electricity from generation sites to consumers.
He expressed worry that NERC had watched helplessly while communities, individuals, and corporate organisations assumed the responsibility of providing electricity transmission facilities (meters, cables and transformers) where they were either not available or repaired when the same are faulty.
The House, therefore, urged the NERC to put in place an effective metering plan, which assured consumers of fair billing.
The lawmaker tasked NERC to invoke relevant provisions of the law and other extant agreements to penalise DisCos for exploiting and abusing the rights of consumers.
The green chambers charged NERC to evolve a methodology along with the distribution companies to compensate communities, individuals, and other private and public entities for their investments in the distribution network.
In his ruling, the speaker, Tajudeen Abbas, mandated the committee on power, when constituted, to interface with NERC and the distribution companies to work and resolve limitations to provide excellent service delivery to Nigerians.