Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The Senate has advised the federal government to subsidise electricity bills till the first quarter of 2021in line with the conditions given by the Distribution Companies (Discos).
This is just as the upper chamber adjourned plenary to Wednesday (today) in honour of one of its deceased member, Senator Bayo Osinowo, who died of complications arising from COVID-19 pandemic disease in Lagos on June 15.
The representatives of the DISCOs had at a meeting with the National Assembly leadership on Monday in Abuja reiterated that if the planned hike in electricity tariff is to be deferred till next year, the federal government should continue to bear the difference between the current tariff and what was considered as the appropriate tariff.
Shedding more light on the issue, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Power, Senator Gabriel Suswan, stated that it would not be out of place for The Presidency to pick the differential between what consumers currently pay and the envisaged increase between now and the end of the year.
Suswan expressed optimism that the federal government would accede to the request of the Discos. “I think the executive will agree, even though it’s going to come at a cost but what cost is more than lessening the burden on the people?” Suswan asked.
According to him, “nowhere in the world that power is not subsidised especially in developing economy because there are genuine people, who, because of their income, are unable to pay what is called cost-reflective tariff.”
Suswan further stressed that Nigerians are heavily burdened because of COVID-19 “as the economy has contracted by 3.2 per cent.
“The President has been doing well. He has spent so much money and what we expect is that the spending will gradually reduce or diminish as the power sector becomes more efficient.
“There are two things, one is to make it more efficient and second, the government will back out just like they have done in the oil sector where subsidy has been completely removed. Even at that, the government is reducing the pump price. So, should they, in the same vein, increase tariff? It doesn’t make sense,” he said.
The Senate also observed a minute silence in honour of a late member Osinowo, before adjourning its plenary.
The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo- Agege, who presided over the plenary announced that the Senate would hold a valedictory session for the late senator that represented Lagos East Senatorial Zone.
The senators proceeded to the National Assembly foyer to sign the condolence register opened for their late colleague.
Speaking after signing the condolence register, Omo-Agege described the death of Osinowo as one death too many “most especially this senator who was a great guy, a great nationalist, a man who devoted most of his short life fighting for the freedom of Nigerians and for Nigerians to have opportunity to lead a better life.
“As you know, he was a very stabilising factor as an individual in the Lagos State House of Assembly where he served for four terms, which is unprecedented. Since his been here with us in the Senate, he has been a very calming influence, a patriot, and a pillar of support especially with us in the leadership needed to keep this house going.
“His contributions were very impactful not only on behalf of his constituency in Lagos State but indeed on behalf of all Nigerians. So we are going to miss him like we missed our other colleagues. We pray that his soul will rest in perfect peace. But more importantly, we pray that the A,lmighty God make this the last time I will have to face you to give this kind of statement because we have had too many deaths and we don’t want that anymore.”