Electricity Tariff Hike: Senate suspends debate to seek legal consultation

Sharon EboesomiMay 16, 20246 min

Senator Barau Jibrin who presided over the day’s plenary stepped down the debate on electricity, saying the legal department would be consulted on the matter before further debate.

Electricity Tariff Hike: Senate suspends debate to seek legal consultation

The Senate has suspended debates on plans to halt electricity tariff hikes in the country as it awaits legal advice.

This followed a report from the Committee on Power during Thursday’s plenary.

OrderPaper recalls that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) had earlier announced a hike in electricity tariff across the nation for Band A customers from N65/kWh to N225/Kwh which attracted condemnation from many sections of the country.

According to NERC, Band A customers are those who enjoy 20-24 hours of electricity supply daily, while Band B enjoy 16-20 hours, Band C enjoy 12-16 hours, Band D enjoy 8-12 hours and Band E enjoy only 4-8 hours.

Following the outcry of several citizens, the Senate through its Committee on Power carried out a 2-day investigative hearing with the Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu on the need to halt the proposed increase in electricity tariff by eleven (11) successor electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOS) and the planned hike in the electricity tariff by the DISCOS amidst the economic situation in Nigeria.

However, over half an hour into the debate, the Chairman Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Senator Titus Zam (APC, Benue North-West) called on his colleagues to put a hold to further deliberations on the report as there is a pending issue on it in court.

He said, “Available records of information are that a federal high court in Kano has issued an order about this new tariff and the matter is pending in court. So I will urge the Senate to avoid any further debate on it.”

Zam‘s motion was seconded by Senator Jimoh Ibrahim (APC, Ondo South).

Thereafter, the Deputy President of the Senate Barau Jibrin who presided over the day’s plenary stepped down from the debate, saying the legal department would be consulted on the matter before further debate.

He said, “Let us leave it for a while. We can complete the process after we get an opinion from our legal department.”

READ ALSO: “Halt all plans to increase electricity tariff” – Senate to FG 

Before the suspension of the debate, while presenting the report from the investigative hearing, the Chairman of the Committee on Power, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (APGA, Abia South) noted that the Investigative hearing was done to halt the proposed increasing tariffs.

According to him, since the conclusion of the privatisation of power assets in 2013, the Nigerian electricity market has been plagued by a huge liquidity crisis that cuts across the entire power value chain and is attributable to the subsidised tariff regime, where the federal government of Nigeria bears responsibility. 

He said, “The federal government of Nigeria bears responsibility for between 75% to 91% of the monthly and mid-year invoices as tariff subsidies. 

“Official figures made available to the committee indicate that although the federal government subsidy application reduced from N528 billion in 2019 to N144 billion in 2022, it rose again to hit N2.9 billion in 2024 due to foreign exchange and inflation while the legacy debt of the gas supply companies stood at $1.3 billion

“The Commission’s decision that the over 200% upward review, which affected Band A category of customers, was the best option to reduce the subsidy volume from 240 billion per month to about 100 billion per month. 

“However, the preponderance of opinion of stakeholders supports the suspension of the tariff due to the bad timing and poor consultations, which is against the provisions of Sections 48 and 49 of the Electricity Act 2023. 

“However, NERC failed to provide what should happen to those rates in case of positive change in the industry.”

According to Abaribe, the Committee recommended that NERC hold the Distribution Companies (DISCOS) accountable for Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), including the failure to deliver on their capital expenditure and operating expenditures, customer return obligations under the Electricity Act, essential customer service applications, including customer centralisation, implementation of energy credits for customers who are invested in transformers, meters, and other assets to the discourse. 

Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South) expressed deep concern over the hike, saying that it is against the constitution.

He said, “We should take this particular issue that affects Nigerians very seriously. 

“This country belongs to us. This democracy belongs to the people. I’m surprised, and there are two surprises there. One is the sudden hike of the electricity tariff which to me, is against the constitution because the constitution is superior. 

“Section 42 says that you cannot discriminate against Nigerians. This is discrimination and it should not be allowed.

“Thank God this president is listening and we have a responsibility of calling people to order. 

“If you see how the minister of power was presenting this increase in power as if he owns the company and It should not be like that,” he lamented.

Sharon Eboesomi

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