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Reps minority caucus slams FG over electricity tariff hike

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Reps minority caucus slams FG over electricity tariff hike

The Minority Caucus of the House of Representatives has berated the federal government over its decision to hike electricity tariff, arguing that the decision announced by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), is insensitive, inhuman, and evil.

A statement by the leader of the caucus, Kingsley Chinda, in Abuja on Friday, said the abrupt hike, which places an unbearable burden on the already strained populace, exacerbating economic hardships and widening the chasm of inequality, is inhumane and must not be tolerated.

He said such a hike, which is over two hundred per cent above the rate of inflation, utterly disregards the plight of ordinary citizens, who are grappling with the adverse effects of the removal of oil subsidy, galloping inflation, unemployment, and inadequate access to basic amenities.

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“We note that in the immediate aftermath of the announcement of the tariff hike, NERC claimed that the hike affects only twelve per cent of electricity consumers who enjoy minimum of twenty hours of electricity a day. The truth has become stark that this is stark lie. The hike, according to data put out by the DISCOS, affects all electricity consumers. This habitual resort to deceit and outright lies clearly puts government in bad light and erodes the trust and confidence of the populace in the government.

“The timing of this tariff hike, amidst prevailing economic challenges, is not only insensitive but also detrimental to the well-being of Nigerians. It further highlights the disconnect between policymakers and the realities faced by the masses of our people.

“Elsewhere in the global north, governments are doing all they can to protect citizens against the adverse effects of the pandemic on economies. In the United Kingdom, for example, where anti-subsidy proselytisers preach against subsidies, His Majesty’s Government has “paid almost 40 billion pounds ($50 billion) in energy subsidies since it began to help households and businesses cope with the surge in power bills after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

“According to the global news agency Reuters, between the launch of the schemes in October 2022 and March 2023, nearly 21 billion pounds was spent on the Energy Price Guarantee (EPG) programme that supports households with their bills, the government said.

“A further 12 billion pounds was paid under the Energy Bills Support Scheme, which offered homes payments of 400 pounds towards their bills over the winter months. Businesses and other organisations received about 5.5 billion pounds under the Energy Bill Relief Scheme, and almost 1 billion pounds was spent on other programmes”.

“Also, in the United States, the government is subsidising (by way of tax credit) thirty percent off the cost of chargers for electric vehicles.

“Not here in Nigeria, where the government spends money on frivolities with no real economic impacts on households or on the lives of ordinary citizens. Here, the directive principle of state policy is ‘go and die.’

“We urge Mr President Ashiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to prevail on the electricity regulator, NERC, to rescind this decision and prioritize the welfare of the people.

He further added that transparent dialogue and inclusive decision-making processes are imperative to address the root causes of the energy sector’s inefficiencies and ensure sustainable solutions that benefit all stakeholders, not a consistent and persistent increase in tariffs.

He furthermore called for increased accountability and transparency in the management of resources within the electricity sector, adding that citizens have the right to demand efficient service delivery and fair pricing mechanisms that align with their economic realities.

“In solidarity with the Nigerian people, we stand firm in our condemnation of this unjustifiable increase in electricity tariffs and call for immediate action to alleviate the burdens imposed on the populace.

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