Nigerians have now resigned to their sad fate where the power sector is concerned. Privatisation of the power sector and the creation of the Distribution Companies, DISCOs, by the President Goodluck Jonathan administration have failed to provide the relief promised to the people. Power generation and distribution remain uncertain today as they were on May 29, 2015.
In 2015, power generation had hovered at about 6,000 megawatts. The Minister of Power, Mr Babatunde Fashola only recently announced that generation had increased to 6,800 megawatts. But in terms of actual transmission, it has never really risen above 4,000 megawatts at peak periods. Most of the time, Nigerians have to manage with as little as 1,500 megawatts due to multiple system challenges and the generally low capacity of our transmission system. So, from the standpoint of consumers very little has changed, except perhaps, for the worse.
The Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, has on several occasions added weight to Fashola’s justification of the upward reviews of electricity tariffs. He believes that a “cost-effective tariff” is “the only way to service that core value chain”. He believes we need to keep “compensating the value chain – from generation down to distribution (through) a cost-effective tariff”.
It is sad that the Federal Government is putting more emphasis on “cost-effective tariffs” rather than putting pressure on the electricity providers to expedite action in metering the power supplied to the people to ensure accountability and justify the existing tariffs. How can we persuade consumers to pay more for electricity on top of the “crazy billing” syndrome which comes on the back of estimated bills?
It is obvious that power providers are keen on sustaining their pricing impunity through the crazy billing regime. They have little interest in embracing massive provision of metres to their customers. That is unacceptable. We insist that all consumers must be provided with electricity metres. Let everyone know what they are paying per watt before we talk about upward tariff adjustment.
The metres are not as scarce as the power providers make it seem. Several Nigerian companies are now manufacturing metres. They should be patronised to ensure that metres go round.
We also encourage the Federal Government to push ahead with efforts to collaborate with the World Bank to come up with a subsidy regime for the power sector, which, added to the tariffs paid by the consumers, will help in funding our electricity value chain.
Placing undue emphasis on frequent increases in electricity tariffs and allowing the power providers to operate without providing metres to their customers is anti-people.
The power-consuming public must be protected instead of being made to bear the brunt of failures by the government and the power providers.