The Senate on Tuesday directed the immediate reversal of the recent hike in electricity tariff announced by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission.
The upper chamber, gave the directive while adopting a two-prayer motion moved by the All Progressives Congress member representing Bauchi North, Senator Suleiman Nazif.
The senate also asked its committee on Labour to carefully review the law establishing NERC with a view to making it a strong regulatory body that will ensure that both the consumer and investor will be treated fairly and equitably.
It also mandated the committee on Employment, Labour and Productivity to organise a public hearing of stakeholders, including the Ministry of Power; the NERC; DISCOS; and GENCOS so that an acceptable way of resolving all issues relating to the sector could be effectively resolved.
Nazif lamented the alleged arbitrary increase of the tariff and insisted that due process was not followed as stipulated in Section 76 of the Power Sector Reform Act 2005.
He also argued that the new tariff would have a multiplier effect on the Nigerian economy with the manufacturing companies being forced to pay more for power consumption.
He added that most consumers were not provided with meter in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding dated November 1, 2013.
According to him, the document stipulated that within 18 months of gestation period, all consumers would have been provided with meter.
He further accused the Discos of continuously exploiting Nigerians and increasing their burdens.
He said, “The distribution companies have continued to exploit Nigerians by estimated billing system for the majority of consumers while deliberately refusing to make ore-paid meters available.
“Privatisation in any part of the world is meant to inject fresh funds into the concerned sector and not to impose ridiculous tariff on helpless masses.
“The increase is only intended to protect the investment of select few and not to serve the interest of Nigerian masses who are already battling with the prevailing economic recession. The increase in tariff will pave way for additional heavy burden on consumers and coupled with challenges in the economy.
“It will adversely affect the purchasing power of Nigerian workers and the entire Nigerian masses and by extension, aggravate restiveness in the country.”
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, described the increase as wicked and unfortunate.
He said the new tariff should be randomly condemned and immediately withdrawn in the interest of hapless citizens of Nigeria.
He added that troubling the citizens who are already wallowing in abject poverty and acute state of insecurity, should not be encumbered with further hike in electricity tariff unless there is a plan to frustrate the the people.
Also speaking on the motion, Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West), said the recent increase was the fourth since the privatisation exercise was concluded.
He added that whereas Discos always hinge such increase on moves to improve power supply, yet there is no stable power supply neither are metres made available.