Only customers with a guaranteed minimum of 12 hours of electricity can have their electricity tariffs adjusted, the minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, has said.
Mr Mohammed said the recent increase in electricity as approved by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) will be on the basis of guaranteed improvement in service.
During a press briefing on Monday on the recent increase in the price of fuel and electricity tariff, the minister said the arrangement is to protect the large majority of Nigerians who cannot afford to pay cost-reflective tariffs from arising from the increases.
He said that the government has been supporting the industry due to the problems with the the largely-privatised electricity industry.
“To keep the industry going, the government has so far spent almost N1.7 trillion, especially by way of supplementing tariffs shortfalls.”
Mr. Mohammed said the government does not have the resources to continue supporting the industry and it will be ” grossly irresponsible” for it to borrow just to subsidise generation and distribution, which are both privatised
“Those who get less than 12 hours supply will experience no increase. This is the largest group of customers,” he said.
He said due to the complaints about arbitrary estimated billing, the federal government is undertaking a mass metering programme which will provide meters for over 5 million Nigerians.
This, he said, is largely driven by preferred procurement from local manufacturers and creating thousands of jobs in the process.
“NERC will also strictly enforce the capping regulation to ensure that unmetered customers are not charged beyond the metered customers in their neighborhood. In other words, there will be no more estimated billings,” he said.
The minister also said that the government is also taking steps to connect those Nigerians who are not even connected to electricity at all.
“Under its Economic Sustainability Plan, the government is providing solar power to 5 million Nigerian households in the next 12 months,” he said.
“This alone will produce 250,000 jobs and impact up to 25 million beneficiaries through the installation, thus ensuring that more Nigerians will have access to electricity via a reliable and sustainable solar system.”
FG can no longer afford fuel subsidy
He said the reaction of Nigerians towards the recent increase in the pump price of fuel is unnecessary and totally mischievous as the increase was largely due to the price of crude inching up.
The minister said subsidising fuel is no longer feasible, especially under the prevailing economic conditions in the country.
“The government can no longer afford fuel subsidy, as revenues and foreign exchange earnings have fallen by almost 60 percent, due to the downturn in the fortunes of the oil sector.
“Yet, the government has had to sustain expenditures, especially on salaries and capital projects. Even though we have acted to mitigate the effect of the eeconomicslowdown by adopting an Economic Sustainability Plan, we have also had to make some difficult decisions to stop unsustainable practices that were weighing the economy down,” he said.
He said the cost of fuel subsidy was too high and unsustainable. From 2006 to 2019, fuel subsidy gulped N10.413 Trillion. That is an average of N743.8 billion per annum.
He also said that there is also no provision for fuel subsidy in the revised 2020 budget because the government cannot afford it.
“The Federal Government is not unmindful of the pains associated with higher fuel prices at this time. That is why we will continue to seek ways to cushion the pains, especially for the most vulnerable Nigerians.
“The government is providing cheaper and more efficient fuel in form of autogas. Also, Government, through the PPPRA, will ensure that marketers do not exploit citizens through arbitrarily hike in pump
prices. And that is why the PPPRA announced the range of prices that must not be exceeded by marketers,” he said.
He said in spite of the recent increase, Nigerians pay a cheaper electricity tariff when compared to many countries in Africa and lowest in the West/Central African sub-regions.
“The opportunistic opposition and their allies are playing dirty politics with the issue of petrol pricing and electricity tariff.
“Please note that these naysayers did not complain when the price adjustment led to lower petrol prices on at least two occasions since March,” Mr Mohammed said.
He advised Nigerians to renounce those who have latched onto the issue of petrol pricing and electricity tariff review to throw the country into chaos.