The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has said electricity distribution companies have yet to convince the public that estimated billing will be stopped if they increase consumption tariff.
Gbajabiamila also said the National Assembly should ensure that the proposed new electricity tariff was cost-reflective, while stating that the increment should not be allowed until estimated billing was criminalised.
He said he would meet with the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), and stakeholders in the power sector over the matter.
The Minority Leader, Mr Ndudi Elumelu, on Thursday condemned the plans by Discos to increase electricity tariff, asking the Nigerian Electricity
Regulatory Commission to stop all processes leading to the increment.
He said any increase in electricity tariff would worsen “the already excruciating financial burden on homes, personal businesses, companies and the overall productive sectors”.
The NERC had approved the increment in its December 2019 Minor Review of Multi-Year Tariff Order 2015 and Minimum Remittance Order for the Year 2020.
The commission said the order was issued to reflect the impact of the changes in the minor review variables in the determination of cost-reflective tariff and relevant tariff and market shortfalls for 2019 and 2020.
It said the order also determined the minimum remittances payable by the Discos in meeting their market obligations based on the allowed tariffs.
The NERC last Saturday directed the 11 electricity distribution companies to increase their tariffs beginning from April.
Gbajabiamila on Friday tweeted on his verified personal Twitter handle, @femigbaja, “There is no guarantee that after any electricity tariff hike, the Discos will not continue with the nefarious practice of bill estimation or provide uninterrupted power supply.
“I believe @nassnigeria should ensure that any increase in electricity tariff, if at all, should be cost-reflective and not just a whimsical increase with no empirical basis.
“Also, any such increase should only be made after the proposed amendment to the law criminalising estimated billing is signed into law. I intend to meet and discuss this sequence and other conditions with the Attorney General of the Federation and other relevant authorities.”
The Speaker has sponsored a bill seeking to make it criminal for electricity service providers to deny consumers meters or estimate their bills. The proposed law, which was introduced in the 8th National Assembly and revisited by the current 9th House, is awaiting third reading.
Reacting to his tweets, many lamented the 2 ‘crazy bills’ being issued by the Discos as well as their refusal to provide meters for consumers.
One of them, General Eguando Tone Jeff, via @teguando1, tweeted, “Sir, the Discos have refused to be efficient because the law, as it is currently, allows estimated bills which rip off consumers of their legitimate earnings. I get 14k (N14,000) estimated bill monthly in the same area, in the same house structure, while my friend spends 3k (N3,000) for three months on prepaid.
“While I am being ripped off my N36k for estimated bill without power, the Disco laughs all the way to the bank. My neighbour pays what he consumes because he has a prepaid meter. Why will the Discos want to give out meters when they make free money from estimated billing?”