By Adeola Badru
Following the recent introduction of the revised service reflective electricity tariff, the Federal Government in conjunction with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), yesterday, engaged the stakeholders on the right way to fully implement the tariff.
The engagement, held at the Jogor Centre, Ibadan, had stakeholders drawn from different sectors, that converged to discuss the modalities for the implementation of the newly introduced revised service reflective tariff.
While speaking, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN), noted that the meeting became expedient in view of the ripples created by the newly introduced electricity tariff.
According to him, an ad-hoc committee was set up by the Federal Government to holistically look into the workability of the newly introduced tariff and the billing system and to evaluate the services provided by the power sector to justify the new tariff.
His words: “We have bridged the trust gap. Labour is fully represented. We have bridged the trust gap because labour represents the Nigerian workers; they represent in this system, the Nigerian people, so we are bridging that trust gap.”
“It’s not just a government committee, it’s a government and labour committee and the DISCOs are well represented.”
“So, what labour is doing is that they are speaking on behalf of the Nigerian people in this committee. At the end of the day, whatever consensus going forward on electricity tariff will be an agreement between the government and the labour. The presence of the labour here has bridged that trust deficit entirely.”
On tariff implantation by the FG, Keyamo said: “We are not working from the answer to the question, we are working from the question to the answer.”
“What we are doing is actually, honest, open fact-finding. For instance, we want to question the rationale for the service reflective tariff. Labour wants to know the for example those components that make up the final figure. Can we adjust those components?”
“By the time we look at those components, we will now see whether we can affect the final figure that we can agree upon that is actually service reflective for the consumers to pay.”
“But then, at the end of the day, we want to ensure consumers are not strangulated by the unnecessary exploitative tendency of the DISCOs.”
“We also want to make sure the DISCOs are also kept afloat because if they are kept afloat, they will also employ workers, they will also deliver effective service to the Nigerian people and then, we can attract investors,” Keyamo asserted.
In his remark on the level of appraisal of the committee, Representative of NLC, Mr. Joe Ajaero, noted that labour is still moving round to ascertain true situation of things, adding that it is too early to assess the committee.
“As we proceed, we are noticing a lot of issues, but the Senate not open before. So, by the time we conclude, we should be able to come up with a report.”
He, however, denied the insinuation that the ad-hoc committee being set up has bridged the trust gap between the government and the labour, stating that it was when the product of the committee is transparent and implemented to the satisfaction of all that could finally translate to bridging the trust gap.
“If we finish work and the resolutions are not implemented the trust gap has not been bridged,” he stated.
Speaking on sanctions that might follow when metres that were supposed to be given free are sold, TUC representative, Engr. Chris Okonkwo, said it has been clearly stated that metres are to be provided at no cost for Nigerians.
“Even for metres that were paid for, there is a directive from the regulators to the DISCOs that they need to find a way to reimburse those citizens,” he stressed.
Also speaking, the Chief Operating Officer of Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC), Engr. John Ayodele said IBEDC has commenced the rollout of free meters to customers under NMMP.
He said the electricity company is committed to driving the rollout through a series of metering registration and distribution points across different locations within its franchise.
Engr. Ayodele added that the primary objectives of the National Mass Metering Program amongst other things, are to increase the metering rate in Nigeria, curb losses, and increase financial flows to the industry at large.
He said: “Part of the objectives also includes the elimination of estimated billing, improving network monitoring capability, and strengthening the local content in meter manufacturing in Nigeria.”