The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Minister of Power, Goddy Jedy-Agba and the Chairman/CEO, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Prof. James Momoh to immediately reverse what it termed as the unreasonable increase in electricity tariff, which reportedly occurred in December 2022.
SERAP also urged the president to ensure the investigation of the spending of public funds as ‘investments and bailouts’ by successive governments to electricity distribution companies (DisCos) and generating companies (GenCos) since 2005, and prosecution of cases of corruption and mismanagement.
Following the reported approval by NERC, electricity tariffs were increased across DisCos in the country in December 2022. Several prepaid customers had reportedly confirmed the increase. Both the Minister of Power and NERC have refused to confirm or deny the increase.
However, in the letter dated January 7, 2023, and signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said the increase in electricity tariff would exacerbate the extreme poverty across the country and undermine the ability of millions of Nigerians to satisfy basic human needs.SERAP said the increase in electricity tariff failed to follow due process.
“It is entirely inconsistent and incompatible with the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended), the Electric Power Sector Reform Act and the country’s international human rights obligations,” it stated.According to SERAP, millions of Nigerians continue to live in darkness despite the spending by successive governments of trillions of naira as investments and bailouts to electricity companies.
The letter, read in part: “the increase is unjustified, especially given the unreliable, inefficient and poor quality of electricity in the country. Rather than providing electricity discounts to poor Nigerians, successive governments continue to give bailouts to electricity companies.
“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall consider appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.
“Your government should have used the report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), which shows damning revelations that some 133 million Nigerians are poor as a basis to improve access to regular electricity supply, and extend electricity to remote rural households.
“The latest increase in electricity tariff is coming on the heels of the NBC report which shows that over half of the population of Nigeria are multi-dimensionally poor and cook with dung, wood or charcoal, rather than cleaner energy. High deprivations are also apparent nationally in sanitation, time to healthcare, food insecurity, and housing.”