By Musa Sunusi Ahmad
The HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has strongly condemned as insensitive, irresponsible, irrational and reckless, the ill timed and the ill intentioned hike in the electricity tariff payable by Nigerians which is up to 50% additionally to previous tariff hike as implemented by the Federal Government 24 hours ago.
This 50% hike added to already overcharged and over billed electricity tariff paid by Nigerians is regrettable and unfortunate, even as this hike in electricity price will unleash a Harmattan of absolute poverty in the midst of the massive poverty the government had already inflicted on millions Nigerians in the last five years. There is no country anywhere under the sun where the government begins a new year for her people with an avalanche Of strangulating economic policies as has being done by president Muhammedu Buhari .
This action by the president is a negation of section 14 (2)( B) of the 1999 constitution which speaks to the issues of primary duties of the government as the obligation on the government officials to promote the welfare and security of the citizens.
In this instance, the increment in the electricity tariff has violated the chapter 2 of the constitution.
This same government did not transparently provide financial assistance to a large number of small businesses that were destroyed due to the COVID-19 lockdown that were enforced by the president Muhammedu Buhari for eight months.
And then the same government introduced twin evil policy of hike in patrol price and that of electricity tariff. Millions of Nigerians are still battling to survive the consequences of that twin evil policy only for the government to introduce yet another economic pain on the necks of Nigerians to compound their poverty situation on a very colossal level.
This is a tragedy of unimaginable proportion and must be resisted by the people of Nigeria or we will be enslaved. Nigerians should therefore reject it or we live with the ugly reality of collective servitude. The best alternative is to publicly demonstrate peacefully to demand immediate withdrawal of this excruciating pain which will further impoverish millions of Nigerians. The hike in electricity tariff will have the ripple effe t of increasing the costs of goods and services just as the prices of essential foods and other items will quadruple given the costs of preservation of some of these food items that are sold and bought in the same markets by both the affluent and the ABSOLUTELY POOR NIGERIANS WHO ARE NOW OVER 100 MILLION NIGERIANS SINCE 2018 THAT NIGERIA OVERTOOK INDIA AS THE POVERTY CAPITAL OF THE WORLD.
HURIWA recalled that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, had approved over 50 per cent hike in electricity tariff effective January 1, 2021.
The new tarrif hike regime is to be paid by customers of the 11 electricity Distribution Companies, DISCOs.
This is coming just two months after the Commission forced implementation of much opposed hike on Nigerians in November 2020.
In a revised Multi Year Tariff Order (MYTO) signed by the new Chairman of NERC, Engr. Sanusi Garba, on December 30, 2020, the new tariff increase took effect on January 1, 2021, and supersedes the previous Order NERC/2028/2020.
In the new Order NERC/225/2020, the commission said it considered the 14.9% inflation rate rise in November 2020, foreign exchange of N379.4/$1 as of December 29, 2020, available generation capacity, US inflation rate of 1.22% and the Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) of the power firms to raise the tariff.
The revised Service Based Tariff (SBT) also saw increase in the rates payable by all classes of electricity users unlike the one of November 2020, that exempted low power getters.
This is effective till June 2021 while a Cost Reflective Tariff (CRT) expected to raise the new cost higher will be activated from June to December 2021, the NERC Order revealed.
Recall NERC earlier in December, 2020, notified that it had begun a review for another tariff, which has been completed and had taken effect from January 1, 2021.
NERC had raised tariff for the DISCOs in September but that drew outrages from customers and the organised labour, prompting the Federal Government to suspend it to pave ways for parties to dialogue.
Subsequently, by November 1, 2020, the suspended tariff was implemented after some discounts were given for customers who get 12 hours and above power supply daily.
HURIWA has asked Nigerians to embark on Liberation Struggles through peaceful protests to demand that the Federal government reverses this evil policy.