Deji Elumoye in Abuja
A Pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, yesterday flayed the planned increase in electricity tariffs to be paid by consumers from April 1 by the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).
This was coming as a former Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, threatened to sue the commission if it fails to rescind its decision to increase the tariffs by between 70 and 100 per cent.
Spokesman of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, in an interview with THISDAY accused government of making a very big mistake by attempting to hike the electricity tariff paid by Nigerians.
“These people are behaving like economic illiterates to think they can tax poverty to get out of this terminal crisis. They are mistaken,” he said.
According to him, the only way to get out of the nation’s terminal crises is to create prosperity “which is not possible with concentration of everything at the centre.”
He therefore warned that “to continue with this model is to risk the rage of the poor.”
On his part, Ndume described as unacceptable the planned hike in electricity tariffs, saying NERC does not have the right to exercise that power.
“I condemn in all ramifications the step being taken by electricity distribution companies (DisCos) and NERC to increase tariffs paid by consumers. This is not the purpose of setting them up,” he said.
The senator added that the commission has no right whatsoever to unilaterally hike the tariffs without recourse to the National Assembly.
He added: “The commission can’t take that step without reverting to the National Assembly whose members are the real representatives of the people. We know that this tariff increase is not good for the citizenry.”
Ndume noted that he was going to challenge the planned move by the NERC on the floor of the Senate via a motion as soon as the National Assembly reconvenes on January 28.
He claimed that he was also considering a legal option if the commission insists on going ahead with the tariff hike by April.
“In fact, I may seek legal redress over this issue as I have asked my lawyers to look at the possibility of suing NERC if it fails to back down on the issue,” Ndume said.