The national assembly (NASS) on Monday said it had been able to prevail upon electricity distribution companies (DisCos) to halt the proposed increase in tariff for power consumers.
Spokesman of Senate President Ahmad Lawan, Ola Awoniyi, announced the development in statement on said during a meeting.
According to the statement, the leadership of the legislative chamber reached an agreement with the DisCos to have the planned increase suspended.
You recall that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) had, in January, announced that there would be an upward review of electricity tariff across the country from April 1.
However in March, it directed electricity distribution companies (DisCos) to suspend the proposed tariff increase due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sale Mamman, minister of power, later said the proposed hike will take effect from July.
But at a the meeting attended by other stakeholders in the power sector, the leadership of the national assembly was said to have convinced the DisCos to defer the plan till the first quarter of 2021 because of the effect of COVID-19 pandemic.
”The agreement here is that there is not going to be any increase in the tariffs on July 1st,” Lawan was quoted as saying.
“The speaker and I, we are going to take appropriate action and meet with the president. We are in agreement here that there is no question on the justification of the increase but the time is simply not right and appropriate measures need to be put in place
“So, between now and the first quarter of next year, our task will be to work together with you to ensure that we put those blocks in place to support the eventual increase in tariffs.
“The potential increase in the tariffs is definitely something that will be of concern to us in the national assembly.
“There is too much stress in the lives of Nigerians today and indeed across the world because of the challenges imposed by COVID-19 pandemic and even before then, we had issues that would always make it tough for our people to effectively pay the tariffs.
“One way or the other, for this business to flourish, for this sector to be appropriately fixed, for it to attract investment, something has to give way, there is no doubt about that but it is also crucial that we look at the timing for any of our actions.”
Femi Gbajabiamila, the speaker of the house of representatives, said “there cannot be a time as bad as this for us to increase anything” in relation to the hike.”
“The good things is that we have agreed that we need to do something about the cost,” the speaker said.
“How did we arrive at the tariffs or costs. Who were the stakeholders that were present? What was the role of the national assembly?
“More importantly, is the president aware of this because the president is perhaps the biggest stakeholder of all, apart from the Nigerian people.
“Whatever will affect his government is something that should concern all of us. I think this will affect his government. This timing, not the increase; the timing. I think it will affect this government and if it is going to affect his government, we should all rally around our people, our president and the government to make sure we do the right thing.”
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