Nigerian senators have used President Bola Tinubu’s popular catchphrase “let the poor breathe” to demand that the new administration take heed of the plight of citizens by refraining from worsening their suffering through an increase in electricity tariffs.
The federal lawmakers made the demand during Tuesday’s plenary session of the Senate, monitored by THE WHISTLER….CONTINUE READING
The senators took turns to contribute to a motion titled “Need to Halt the Proposed Increase in Electricity Tariff by Eleven Successor Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos),” which was jointly sponsored by Senators Akintende Yunus Abiodun, representing Oyo Central; Asuquo Ekpenyong, representing Cross River South; and Abbas Aminu Iya, representing Adamawa Central.
The motion elicited contributions from the senators who highlighted the economic challenges faced by ordinary Nigerians and the potential adverse effects that a tariff hike could impose on their already burdened livelihoods.
Senator Abiodun opened the discussion by stating that the DisCos had applied to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to seek a “rate review” premised on “the need to incorporate changes in macro-economic parameters and other factors affecting the quality of service, operations and sustainability of the companies”.
He noted that the NERC had published a notice on its website, announcing July 20, 2023, as the deadline for stakeholders to make their final comments ahead of the planned tariff hike.
Seconding the motion, Senator Asuquo Ekpenyong echoed that the removal of fuel subsidy has adversely affected the general price of goods and services in the country “with a very high rate of pass-through inflation”.
He stressed the importance of implementing policies that promote inclusivity and address the challenges faced by the most vulnerable in society, rather than increasing electricity tariffs which he said “will increase the problem of the inflation and compound Nigeria’s inflation crises”.
‘LET THE POOR BREATH’
Cyril Fasuyi, the Senator representing Ekiti North Senatorial District, in his contribution, urged his colleagues to prevail on President Tinubu to “let the poor breathe” in line with his promise to the people by stopping the planned tariff hike.
In his remarks, the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, thanked his colleagues for speaking in favour of vulnerable citizens after taking the voice vote: “Those who are in support of the additional prayer that the poor should be allowed to breathe should say ‘I’, and those who are against, say nay…the I’s have it”
Akpabio commented, “Let me thank the mover of the motion for bringing this to the fore as a matter of fact, it is such a very serious issue because this goes to the root thrust of production, not just production, but employment.
“If we must have employment opportunities, then our industries must function. Industries cannot function without electricity and even the poor households who are made to pay exorbitant bills as a result of estimated billing…this must also be brought to an end.
“So, we frown on this, we condemn it and we think that sanity should be brought into the sector.
“So, what we have done today is to suspend any further increase in electricity tariff until all the conditions stipulated in this motion are met.”
THE WHISTLER reports that conditions include the Senate’s resolution that the NERC must decentralize its proposed engagement with stakeholders in Abuja to the country’s six geo-political zones.
The Red Chamber also resolved that the NERC must “thoroughly look into the rate review applications filed by the DisCos, taking into consideration the interests of citizens, affordability, and the need for improved service delivery.
Additionally, the NERC was asked to immediately discontinue estimated electricity billing and make affordable prepaid meters for all electricity consumers….CONTINUE READING