The Chairman, Senate Committee on Power, Senator Gabriel Suswam, has assured Nigerians that the problems associated with the quality of electricity supply in the country would soon be addressed with a legal framework.
He said the Senate was putting together, a comprehensive Electricity Act in collaboration with the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission to tackle the challenges facing the consumers, the suppliers and the regulators.
Suswam stated this when he led the Senate Committee on Power on oversight function to the NERC headquarters and other power installations in the Federal Capital Territory, on Monday.
He said, “The legal framework that we have in place which regulates the power sector, was set up in 2004, just to enable the government to privatize the sector.
“Now we’ve gone beyond privatisation, and there has to be an electricity act for the country.
“The Act, which should be ready in August, will set a legal framework that would touch on the issue of energy theft, and the sanctions against those who bypass meters.
” It will also give potential investors to come and invest in Nigeria knowing that the legal framework for the country’s power sector protects them.”
The Senator said the electricity distribution companies operating in the country had acceded to the appeal by the National Assembly to suspend their planned tariff hike, which should have started in August.
He said, “The Act that established the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission gave it the power to make sure it carries out tariff reviews.
“To a large extent they have done that but we now find ourselves in a difficult economic situation at the moment.
“By their own programme, the distribution companies are supposed to activate tariff increase by the first of July this year but the National Assembly appealed to them to tarry a while so that Nigerians could recover from the economic shock before they can activate the tariff.
“As difficult as it was, they were able to accede to our appeal and that is why the tariff increase activation has not kicked off.
“That is not to say that it will not be increased eventually because the only way the sector can become liquid is for the proper tariff to be charged and for all consumers to have meters.
“The DISCOs respected us because they know the burden that Nigerians are passing through.”
Senate Committee on Power on oversight function to the National Electricity Regulation Commission.
Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the NERC, Prof. James Momoh, said the electricity sector in Nigeria requires $2.1bn to provide additional infrastructure to boost supply, bring in investors and improve the quality of life.
He noted that the infrastructure in the sector had deteriorated with obsolete equipment capable of generating 13, 000 megawatts installed power capacity.
He lamented that only 5,000 mgw generated was available for distribution by the DISCOs.
He stressed the need for the country to invest in modern infrastructure to improve the supply because Nigeria would in 25 years, require 17, 703 mgw.
Momoh said, “We are putting strategies in place to service effective tariff to ensure that customers are not cheated in tariff increase.
“We are also going to ensure that the ease of doing business is emphasized and supported. We are also promoting local content to make sure that there is Metre for all electricity consumers in Nigeria.
“We are working with the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria to ensure that there is every home in the country.
“We are on the same page with the National Assembly on a regulation that would ensure transparency and effectiveness,” he added.
FG To Consider Death Penalty For Rail Vandals – Amaechi
The federal government says it may consider a death penalty for vandals of critical railway equipment in the country.
Rotimi Ameachi, minister of transportation, stated this on Monday, during a town hall meeting on “protecting public infrastructure” in Abuja.
On May 8, the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) announced the arrest of two persons suspected of vandalising rail tracks along the Kaduna-Zaria rail line.
On May 16, the Kaduna state police command said it arrested five suspected rail-trail vandals at Dalle Village of Jema’a LGA and recovered two trucks loaded with locomotive railway sleepers.
After the Warri-Itakpe incident, the senate asked the federal government and security agencies to ensure that those caught vandalising rail lines across Nigeria are given maximum punishment without a fine.
”I am not quantifying the material cost; what I am quantifying is the lives that will be lost,” Ameachi said at the town hall meeting.
“Imagine that a driver of a rail track is driving and suddenly bumps into a track that has been severed, what happens? It will derail.
“If it derails, can you quantify how many passengers that would have died in the course of one man thinking he is making money?
”Some people have recommended that since these people are killing people, if an accident happens people will die, so we should go back to the National Assembly and pass a law that does not only criminalise the action but consequences should be death.”
The minister also said track vandalism is carried out in collaboration with foreign partners.
”In Jos, they arrested a Chinese company that bought those tracks from them, went to court and found them guilty and fined them N200, 000. So there must be consequences as N200,000 is not enough,” he added.
“Lagos and the Western District recorded one, North Western 31, Northern District 10, North Eastern 43, Eastern 36 and North Central 50 incidents of vandalism. Abuja-Kaduna has 13, Warri-Itakpe 2 and Lagos -Ibadan nill.”
Amaechi, who frowned at traders selling items on railway tracks, especially in Port Harcourt and Lagos, advised individuals engaging in the practice to desist or face the penalties.
N2bn Disbursed To 7,075 Beneficiaries Under Youth Investment Fund – CBN
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says a total of N2.04 billion has been disbursed to 7,075 beneficiaries under the National Youth Investment Fund (NYIF).
The CBN disclosed this in a communique issued at the end of its two-day monetary policy committee (MPC) meeting on Tuesday.
In 2020, the federal executive council (FEC) had approved a N75 billion youth investment fund targeted at young people between ages 18-35 years and with the ministry of youth and sports development, responsible for budgetary provisions and for fundsmobilisation.
The programme financially empowers Nigerian youth to generate at least 500,000 jobs between 2020 and 2023.
The CBN said under the ABP, N631.4 billion was granted to 3,107,949 small holder farmers cultivating 3.8 million of land hectares; N111.7 billion granted to 29,026 beneficiaries under AGSMEIS; and N253.4 billion granted to 548,345 beneficiaries under the TCF, which comprises of 470,969 households and 77,376 SMEs.
CBN said these initiatives were used to inject liquidity into employment generation and enhance growth in the economy.
It further said that N1.84 trillion has been disbursed to real, healthcare and electricity sectors.
MPC said there is a strong need for the monetary authorities to consolidate on all administrative measures not only to tackle inflation but also on the actions so far taken to grow output.
It added that such measures should include boosting consumption and investments, as well as diversifying the base of Nigeria’s economy through foreign exchange restrictions for the importation of goods and food products that can be produced in the country.
Reps Tell NERC To Suspend New Electricity Tariff
The House of Representatives has called on the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), to suspend the proposed Increase in electricity tariff in the country.
Aniekan Umanah in a motion Thursday, recalled “that the Electric Power Sector Act of 2005 established the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission with a mandate to license Distribution Companies (DISCOs), determine operating codes and standards, establish customer rights and obligations and set cost-reflective industry tariff;
He also recalled that the Act prescribed its funding from 15% of electricity charges paid by customers to Distribution Companies; Aware that NERC, working with Distribution Companies, has increased electricity tariffs five times since 2015, the latest being on 1 January 2021”.
He said “despite those increases, Nigerians have not enjoyed significant improvement in power generation, instead they daily grapple with epileptic services from the DISCOs and unilateral exploitation in the name of estimated billing arising from non- metering of over 50% of consumers”.
He observed that “poor services by the DISCOs, have impacted negatively on the socio-economic growth of the country as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Report of 2020 on Nigeria indicated that the manufacturing sector lost over $200 billion to inadequate power supply while a whopping $21 billion was said to have been spent by Nigerians on generating sets within the period under review”.
He observed further that “the Nigerian masses have gone through so much hardship in recent times, arising from acts of terrorism, banditry, kidnappings, farmers and herdsmen’s crisis with its toll on agricultural activities, displacement from ancestral homes, loss of loved ones, starvation arising from inability to return to daily occupation and loss of personal properties running into several millions of naira”.
He raised concerns that “at a time governments all over the world are adopting measures to cushion the devastating effects of the dreaded COVID–19 pandemic on their citizens by providing a wide range of palliatives to losses of loved ones, jobs, businesses and general distortion in the social life, NERC is tinkering with the idea of a further increase in electricity tariff after that of 1 January, 2021, in a country where 2/3 of the 200 million population is grappling with the crippling effects of the pandemic;
Also concerned that the current economic recession made worse by hyperinflation has resulted in skyrocketing prices of foodstuffs, while the increase in prices of Petroleum Products has also triggered the further increase in transport costs and rents with unemployment rates at a frightening 33.3% while the spending power of an average Nigerian has drastically reduced, any further hike in electricity tariff at this time will amount to overkill, lack of empathy and height of insensitivity”.
The House adopted the motion, with its arguments and prayers, resolving to
“ Urge the Federal Government to direct the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission to rescind the decision to further increase electricity tariff proposed for June, 202l in view of the hard times Nigerian masses are currently going through”.
The House resolution, also mandated” the Committees on Power, Poverty Alleviation and Labour, Employment and Productivity to ensure compliance”.