While agreeing that the privatisation of power sector was illegal, the federal government has insisted that the increase in electricity tariffs is in order
The Minister of Power and Works, made the disclosure while speaking at a Senate public hearing on the electricity tariff. He added that government’s interests were illegitimately sold to some private businesses.
“As a minister, I inherited a power sector where government’s interests have been illegally sold and, therefore, I don’t control how power is distributed.”
On the electricity tariff increase, the minister said that the tariff could not be reversed. He noted that only the NERC had the powers to fix tariffs in line with the law passed by the National Assembly. He said as a minister, he didn’t do it and asked Nigerians to put behind them the past and move the country forward by keying into the agenda of the federal government.
Fashola said: “The DISCOS made it very clear to us that if we did not give them the market reflective tariff it means that government would have to carry the continuing cost that accumulated in the region of about a trillion naira.
“The tariff was increased in 2015 and then reversed because of the electoral significance. But the debts that they created were not reversed and they continued to accrue into this administration.
“We are not insensitive to Nigerians, owing to their challenges. We were looking for the best way to solve what has become an over 60-year problem, since 1950, when TCN was first created. I guess tariffs may initially look excessive but when we count and measure the down times and how much time is lost when there is no sustainable electricity and measure them against the expectation of sustained electricity overtime, perhaps it would seem cheaper.”
Fashola, who admitted that power supply in the country had not significantly improved, said confidence had been restored in the sector.
“Yes, service hasn’t improved but confidence has come into the system. Like you have the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) in the telecommunication industry, NERC is for us in the power sector.” In his remarks, Anthony Akah, the acting chairman of NERC, said it was not possible to reverse the tariff.
“The review of the tariff is possible but its reversal is not,” he said.
“The tariff was essential and meant to trigger the necessary investment in the sector. The hike in the tariff was not different from what is happening in other sectors of the economy,” he added.