By Udeme Clement
A former Zonal Chairman, Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Comrade Folorunso Oginni, says the hike in electricity tariff shows the insensitivity of the government to the plight of the people. “In the past, we paid so much for outrageous estimated electricity bills on what we did not consume, yet these crazy bills keep coming when there is no regular supply of power”, Oginni stated.
“Look at a country like South Africa with a population of about 42.4million people generating over 40.000Mega Watt (MW) of electricity, while Nigeria with a population of over 170million people is generating between 4,000 and 5,000mw of power. Is this not a shame? Now a large number of Nigerians do not have prepaid meters, yet government wants to increase electricity tariff, instead of providing meters for the people. Is increase in power tariff what government ought to do now, or provision of meters and increase in power generation to attain at least 20.000mw capacity? Now, what is the justification for the hike in tariff?
“In other countries, nobody tells you to pay for meters because that is the responsibility of government. But in Nigeria, we pay for meters, yet they don’t supply the meters to us. If a transformer is faulty, members of the community will have to contribute money on their own to get a new transformer. Yet, what government does is only to increase tariff frequently without carrying the people along in their plan. Is this government really for the people? They just woke up one day and increased power tariff without wide consultations with the people, labour groups and relevant stakeholders in the sector. Why is this government treating Nigerians like this?
“ Look at what is happening in some states of the federation now. Some states say they cannot pay 18.000minimum wage, yet government is increasing power tariff. Uptill now, some states are owing workers salaries up to five months and our government is not concerned about the welfare of the people who voted them into power. Our economy is in crisis, even as our currency is depreciating by the day, yet government is not proffering practical solutions to move the economy forward, other than increasing power tariff to further impoverish the citizens. The naira now exchanges about 325 to dollar, yet government is telling us to still pay more for what we are not consuming. Where are the prepaid meters they ought to have given us since? It is now clear that this government is inflicting more pains on Nigerians. We must stand up to say no, to this exploitation.”
“Those Senators in National Assembly must be removed. They have refused to sign the budget now because people are saying they should not allocate a huge sum to buy cars for themselves, at a time our economy is in a slow-down. Look at the new Minister of power, who was just brought in, the first thing he wants to do, is to increase electricity tariff. Is this the type of change we voted for? Is this the type of change that Nigerians want? Is this the type of change this government promised us during campaign? We will not pay the new electricity tariff without commensurate output in electricity supply and provision of prepaid meters to measure what we consume. All Nigerians must rise up to say no to this hardship, enough is enough.”