By Oscarline Onwuemenyi
The Minister of State for Power, Mr. Nuhu Somo Wya, has endorsed the recent Multi-Year Tariff Order released by the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, insisting that it was fair that â€œNigerians begin to pay more for the electricity they consume.â€
Wya, who spoke with our correspondent, at the background of the workshop in Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy in Nigeria, noted that: â€œThe issue is that Nigerians have to be able to pay for services rendered; the tariff has to be cost-reflective. If you spend N10 to generate electricity, you cannot sell it for N6; otherwise, it means the operator would not be encouraged to produce the power.
â€œThe cost of paying for that power, I believe, is cheaper than the cost of darkness that we are currently experiencing. Nigerians should be prepared to roll up their sleeves to pay for the electricity they consume. That way, that electricity can energise our economy and make us richer and better people.
â€œThis is why we must review the tariff to reflect the actual cost of generation and distribution of electricity.â€
He said the introduction of pre-payment metres a few years ago by the commission was meant to ensure that consumers of electricity pay for only the electricity they consume.
â€œThese pre-payment metres measure the electricity you consume; if you consume for one hour, you are only going to pay for the one hour, but for goodnessâ€™ sake, pay the correct price for the one hour you are consuming. If you pay the correct price, everybody involved in generating this service will be encouraged to produce regularly and promptly,â€ he added.
NERC had last Thursday announced an increase in this yearâ€™s Multi-Year Tariff Order, MYTO, but insisted that the increase would not affect retail tariff for consumers across the country.
Making the announcement during a meeting in Abuja, the Administrator of Commission, Mr. Imamuddeen Talba, stated that the 2010 annual review sought to obtain a fair balance in regulation of electricity in the country.
Talba explained that the â€œ2008 tariff order has frozen retail tariffs at N6.00 for 2008, N7.00 for 2009 and N8.50 for 2010 average per kilowatt hour (KWh),â€ adding that this yearâ€™s review will only affect the wholesale price and not the retail tariff.
â€œTherefore, consumers should not expect any increase in their tariff beyond what was approved in 2008,â€ he stated.
Talba also announced the Federal Government has approved a subsidy of N177 billion over a three-year period to avoid rate shock to consumers. In this vein, the government has released a total of N43.9 billion to the Market Operator for onward disbursement to beneficiaries.
Meanwhile, the Minister has disclosed that the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) is being owed a total of N70 billion by consumers across the country, noting that no Agency whether private or public can perform miracle with this volume of debt owed to it for service already rendered.
Also, the Presidential Action Committee on Power (PACP) says it is working assiduously to fast track improvement and predictability in electricity supply to Nigerians within the next three and six months.
It also hopes that within three to 12 months, it would take irreversible steps to promote medium to long term sustainable growth of the Nigerian electricity supply industry.
This was disclosed in a Preliminary Presentation to Donor Agencies, members of the diplomatic Corps as well as stakeholders in the industry by the Task Force in Abuja.
Addressing the Stakeholders, which included the Minister of State for Power and the Minister of National Planning Commission, represented by the Secretary of the Commission, Prof. Sylvester Monye, a member of PACP and Senior Special Assistant (Special Duties) to Mr. President, Nze Akachukwu Nwankpo, hinted that in line with the yearnings of the Nigerians, PACP was working towards sustaining electricity availability in major industrial and commercial hubs.
PACP hinted that Nigerians have borne the brunt of power outage enough that Mr. President has directed the Task Force to restore sanity to the sector within 3 – 6 months.
To realise this objective, the Task force said it focuses on all initiatives that would sustain availability, quality and reliability while simultaneously implementing short, medium and long term solutions that would make electricity availability predictable in Nigeria.
Nwankpo emphasized that though the report would be approved soon, its broad objectives, nonetheless, were to restore within 6 months, the consumer confidence in the electricity supply industry, make every Nigerian electricity consumer a responsible consumer that complies with tariff and service obligations as well as establish a competitive power procurement framework that delivers increased generation to meet increasing consumer demand.
Wya who is also a member of the PACP stressed that Nigeria was investing so much to solve the energy crisis and appealed to consumers to be protectors of these facilities in their surroundings.
Wya disclosed that the people must sustain these facilities and that while the government gears towards fulfilling its mandate to the citizens, payment of electricity bills by consumers, especially Government Agencies must remain a civic responsibility.
He warned that Government might hold communities which allow their power facilities to be vandalized responsible.
It is expected that the approved Report of the Task Force would be unveiled to Nigerians in a week or two.