14th October, 2010
There seems to be no limit to the yoke Nigerians are forced to bear as the FederalÂ Government is resolute about implementing a new anti-people electricity pricing regimeÂ next month without improving the dismal electricity supply in the country.
Prof. Barth Nnaji, Adviser on Power to President Goodluck Jonathan, gave the hint in anÂ interview with Reuters. He said: â€œpricing and regulatory issues are being sorted out andÂ should be completed next month,â€ adding that government â€œwill then be able to provide theÂ appropriate information to buyers as to what tariffs they can expect. TheÂ market-determined plan will replace subsidised prices where consumers pay N6 ($0.04) aÂ kilowatt.â€
Although the new pricing policy is designed to make the power sector more attractive toÂ investors, electricity consumers will be worse off because they will continue to be atÂ the receiving end of the shoddy services rendered by Power Holding Company of Nigeria,Â PHCN.
Nigerians heaved a sigh of relief when President Jonathan announced at an elaborateÂ ceremony in Lagos on 26 August this year that the Federal Government had concluded planÂ to end its monopoly of power supply and distribution by allowing private investors to getÂ involved in the sector. We expected that the private investors would conclude theÂ contract signing with the Federal Government, hit the road running and prove to NigeriansÂ that they can deliver the goods before the government increases the tariff paid byÂ electricity consumers. The reverse is now the case as the government is eagerly planningÂ to implement the new tariff when electricity supply is still annoyingly unreliable andÂ sometimes consumers do without electricity supply for days. They rely on generators toÂ meet their power supply needs and at a huge cost.
It is only in Nigeria that consumers are made to pay for services they do not enjoy. ItÂ is only in Nigeria that PHCN could cook up crazy bills and force electricity consumers toÂ pay. We all know that PHCN is another name for failure and ineptitude and the epilepticÂ power supply is often cited by Nigerians as one of the yardsticks for measuring theÂ countryâ€™s abysmal failure.
If President Jonathan has the wellbeing of Nigerians at heart, he should defer the newÂ pricing regime and allow PHCN to improve electricity supply considerably beforeÂ implementing it. In the alternative, the new tariff being contemplated should come intoÂ effect only when the private sector has fully taken charge and provided uninterruptedÂ electricity supply to Nigerians.
Electricity consumers have had enough punishment from PHCN and imposing a heavier yoke onÂ the people through the new tariff is an unacceptable assault. The government should stopÂ putting the cart before the horse. We canâ€™t swallow the bitter pill about to be forcedÂ down our throats. The Federal Government should stop testing the capacity of Nigerians toÂ endure further punishment from inept PHCN. Nigerians are no fools to be taken for a rideÂ all the time by insensitive government officials.