Socio-economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct Minister of Power, Goddy Jedy-Agba and the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Prof. James Momoh, to immediately reverse the “unlawful, unjust and unreasonable” increase in electricity tariff, which reportedly occurred in December 2022.
SERAP also urged him to ensure investigation into 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 reported approval by NERC, electricity tariffs were increased across DisCos in the country in December 2022. Several prepaid customers have reportedly confirmed the increase. Both the Minister ofS Power and the NERC have refused to confirm or deny the increase.
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.
“The increase in electricity tariff failed to follow due process. It is entirely inconsistent and incompatible with provisions of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended), the Electric Power Sector Reform Act and the country’s international human rights obligations.”
According to the body, millions of Nigerians continue to live in darkness, despite spending by successive governments of trillions of naira as investments and bailouts to electricity companies.
The organisation said: “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.
“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, healthcare, food security, and housing.
“Access to regular electricity supply would improve the quality of life of the population.
“Electricity is an essential public service but millions of Nigerians continue to pay the price for corruption in the electricity sector–staying in darkness, but still made to pay crazy electricity bills. Electricity supply remains inadequate and irregular.
“Regular and uninterrupted access to electricity is a fundamental human right. Your government has legal obligations to ensure that the operations of NERC and electricity companies do not impair the effective enjoyment of the right.
“Access to affordable electricity services is a prerequisite for improving the condition of people living in poverty. It is a means to generate other important services that mitigate poverty, bearing in mind that access to electricity facilitates the eradication of poverty.
“The hike in tariff would increase financial burdens for socially and economically vulnerable Nigerians and further marginalise and disproportionately affect them, and exacerbate their vulnerability to discrimination.”