Senate reverses self on upward review of electricity tariff 

The Senate Thursday reversed itself over move to call for suspension of upward review of electricity tariff recently done by Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

NERC had in making the upward review , increased previous tariff of N68 per kilowatt, to N225 per kilowatt and categorized electricity consumers in the country into four different Bands with Band A , slated for 20 hours electricity supply.

Miffed  by the plan , the Senate , mandated its committee on Power , to carry out holistic investigations on the power sector as regards epileptic power supply and exorbitant tariffs.

But the Committee led by Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe ( APGA Abia South ) , while presenting its report , which among others , recommended that the upward review of electricity tariff , should be suspended , got interrupted by some other Senators , on the grounds of the issue already being litigated against.

Specifically , at the point of adoption of recommendations of the report by the Senate, its Chairman on Rules and Business Committee, Senator Titus Zam (APC Benue North West) ,raised a point of order to draw the attention of Senators to litigation against the policy.

Senator Zam who came under Order 53 of the Senate’ s Standing Rules said, “Mr President and Distinguished Senators, going further to consider the report before us and adopting recommendations made, would amount to subjudice , since the issue of upward review of electricity tariff by NERC, has been litigated against and still a matter in the court of law.

“In line with our rules, we should step down further consideration let alone , approval of this report, since the subject matter is already being handled by court of competent jurisdiction in Kano.”.

Throwing his weight behind Senator Zam, Senator Jimoh Ibrahim (APC Ondo South), also rose to caution the Senate from further consideration of the report.

Apparently convinced by the arguments of the two Senators , the Deputy President of the Senate , Barau Jibrin , who presided over the session, ruled that the report should be stood down for required briefings from the legal department of the Senate on whether to forge ahead on it at another legislative day or not.

Before reversing itself from adopting the report, the Senate would have as recommended by its committee on Power resolved as follows ÷ 

(i) That NERC suspends the ongoing implementation of MYTO, 2024 which approved over 200% upward review of the previous tariffs from N68/kWh to N225/kWh to allow for robust consultation with customers on the various bands on the cost of service instead of heavy reliance on feeder location and duration of service which are difficult to determine and monitor.

(ii) That NERC should ensure full compliance with the mandatory requirement of stakeholder consultation under Section 48 of the Electricity Act, 2023 regarding future regulatory decisions to avoid a repeat of the confusion and public outcry that trailed the recent tariff increase.

(iii)  That the Ministry of Power and NERC should in the meantime adopt measures to address the problem of power scarcity holistically rather than its preoccupation with price manipulation which has proven to be counterproductive.

( iv) That NERC should hold the DISCOs accountable on Key performance Indicators (KPIs) including failure to deliver on CAPEX and OPEX allocations, customer metering obligation under the Electricity Act, 2023, essential customer service obligations including customer sensitization, implementation of energy credits for customers who invested in transformers meters and other assets on the DISCO networks.

(v)  That rate designs should only be cost-reflective if proper account is taken of the relevant macroeconomic environment that determine the affordability of electricity to the different segments of the market.

(vi)  That the Federal Government metering intervention should be encouraged and intensified to address current metering gap of 6.3 million and this must be pursued by the FGN without prejudice to the statutory obligation of DISCOS to meter their customers as provided under Section 68(1)(b) of the Electricity Act, 2023. 

(vii) That  the Federal Ministry of Power should be advised to intensify efforts towards honouring the subsisting contract with Ziklagsis Networks Ltd (ZNL) for the manufacture, supply, installation, management and maintenance of Pre-Paid Meters (PPMs) in Nigeria including the recent Tripartite Metering Project Consortium Agreement between ZNL and De-Haryor Global Services Limited and the Nigerian Army dated 7th September, 2023 which was signed by ZNL for the metering of Army Barracks and other Military Facilities or in the alternative refund the initial funding to the Federal Government.

(viii) That vigorous implementation of power decentralization provided for under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended) and the Electricity Act, 2023.

(ix) That the Ministry of Power should establish Electricity Consumer Protection (ECP) Unit to develop, implement and enforce Electricity Consumer Protection component of the Electricity Act, 2023. 34(2)(c) and 119 (1)(f)