Increase access to prepaid meters not tarrif, Nigerian Youth Parliament tells NERC
The Nigerian Youth Parliament has bemoaned increments in electricity tariff by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, adding that it would cause undue hardship, following the fact that many were still grappling with the subsidy removal.
According to a press statement signed on Saturday by the Speaker Dr Azeezat Yishawu, and titled; ‘Increase customer reach not tariff’, the Parliament lamented the possible effect on the everyday youth struggling with current realities.
She disclosed that, unlike fuel subsidy removal, increased electricity tariff has direct consequences on every person, business and other key sectors.
Yishawu’s statement partly read, “The proposed Electricity tariff increase by NERC will further tip the social-economic life of the majority of Nigerians to the edge. Unlike subsidy removal, Electricity has a direct impact on every sector of the country, from small businesses to giant production companies, the Health sector, Education, and Agriculture especially in the processing and storage chain to mention a few.
“As of 2020, only about 50 per cent of Nigerians have access to some sort of electricity mind you this does not mean adequate regular power. In 2006, a Prepaid meter was introduced to aid revenue collection and discard estimated bill system however, after 17years with trillions of Naira in investment, purchase and distribution of these meters by NERC through its various program is yet to provide prepaid meters to no more than 5 million Nigerians.
“According to NERC only about 10 million Nigerians were registered customers in 2022 and about 5 million were using the prepaid meter. Despite claims by the government to ensure access to prepaid meters through the Meter Asset Providers programme, many Nigerians are still frustrated and exploited by the estimated billing system.
This Year alone, many Nigerians who have requested this meter still face challenges due to ambiguous delivery systems carried out by Distribution companies coupled with the long waiting periods and technical issues which prevent customers from using meters when purchased.”
The Speaker urged NERC on the distribution of meters, stressing that it would genuinely increase profit for the government as more people would be brought into the tariff net.
“If the NERC is concerned about generating revenue, it should rather ensure and facilitate procurement and the actual delivery of prepaid meters to Nigerians and increase the number of people who are registered under the agency rather than be a cause of calamity to the Nigerian people. By ensuring this, the agency can increase its revenue while ensuring fairness rather than choking 10 million Nigerians who are on their database and allowing for fraudulent bill estimates. Nigerians should also be fully aware, that this proposed action is not necessarily the only available option to NERC as the agency itself is not efficient in its mandate to provide nationwide access to electricity. It will be wise for NERC to discard the tariff increase as a means of increasing revenue,” Yishawu’s statement added.
The Parliament also called on relevant organisations to take advantage of the recent assent of the Electricity Act, adding such would yield the needed development.
“Also, in the wake of the new Electricity Act signed by the president, which allows states to generate their electricity, NERC and other related agencies, should deploy strategies that will encourage state licensing to companies that can provide electricity. This will promote what I call the electricity market, where one can subscribe to any electricity-providing company based on preference just like you have for Airtime network, cable TV subscription as well as your favourite gadget company. Further Engagement with this potential investor can help with the distribution of Prepared meters to new customers just like anyone who is subscribing to cable TV will have a decoder, this method will be quite effective as service providers can be responsible for their market area which is usually within a state and can pay for the number of prepared meters purchased from the government.
“Finally, this act alone will provide healthy competition to an already monopolized electricity distribution sector, no more turning off the light grid to drive home an argument,” the statement added.