Laleye Dipo in Minna
The Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, on Thursday rose in defence of Nigerians as he declared that the recent introduction of new electricity tariff by the regulatory agencies was wrong.
Bello, who made the declaration in Minna when he received the management and staff of the Abuja Electricity Development Company (AEDC) led by its Chairman, Alhaji Shehu Malami, at Government House, explained that the timing of the increase in tariff was wrong because most Nigerians were grappling with serious economic predicament.
He said aside from this, the electricity distribution agencies across the country have not been able to serve the people to their satisfaction that would entice them to pay the new tariff.
“The issue of tariff is a national issue. It is not peculiar to Niger State alone, and I think it came at the wrong time because the state is a place where people depend on the government, unfortunately, that government has no money which now has a negative impact on everyone. So payment of the new tariff made it worse because people cannot pay for what they didn’t consume,” he stated.
The governor therefore expressed the hope that the concerned agencies would take a second look at the policy in the interest of the ordinary Nigerians.
Recently, the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) unveiled a 45 per cent hike in an average of N9 jerk up electricity tariff for all classes of electricity consumers even as the commission abolished the continuous fixed charges for all electricity consumers in the country.
The new policy which took effect from February 1 this year had already attracted wide condemnation from major stakeholders across the country.
Commenting on the demand by the AEDC for the state to settle a backlog of debt put at N1.4 billion, Bello said the figure was still in dispute which had forced the administration to set up a committee to dialogue with a body from the electricity agency on the actual debt owed by the state.
However, the governor said once verification was completed, government was prepared to settle its bills as long as AEDC would improve on its power supply to the state.
“If you give us more megawatts of electricity today, I will pay your bills immediately, and my commissioner for finance is here he should take this an approval,.
Earlier, the Chairman of the AEDC, Malami, said over N3billion had been injected into the network with almost equal amount currently being spent on the improvement of infrastructure inherited from the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) which had resulted in the provision of modern business systems and acquisition and distribution of over 700 electricity transformers.
Malami said arrangements had commenced for the enumeration of all the company’s customers with the sole aim of installing more than 5,000 meters.