Reps To Summon NERC Boss Over Electricity Tariff Hike
The House of Representatives has said it will summon the top management of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission in January over the increase of electricity tariffs.
The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, said this in an interview with The PUNCH in Abuja on Thursday.
Namdas said NERC’s move was an affront on the legislature as it was in defiance of a standing House resolution suspending any plans to ask Nigerians to pay more for power.
The House had suspended such plans, pending the outcome of an ongoing investigation into the activities of distribution companies.
However, on Tuesday, less than a week after the resolution, NERC announced higher tariff plans that would see power consumers pay over 45 per cent extra cost for electricity in the New Year.
Namdas, who said reps were shocked by NERC’s action, explained that but for the fact that members had already proceeded on the Christmas and New Year break, the House would have immediately summoned the top management of the agency to explain its action.
He said, “This (tariff hike) is strange to us as a House and it is difficult to explain the action taken by NERC.
“Our investigation into the operations of Discos is still ongoing and part of it has to do with this issue of tariff hike.
“When we resume in January, the House will have to summon the NERC boss or its management to give further explanations on this step that they have taken.”
On his part, the Chairman of the ad hoc committee conducting the investigation, Mr. Jimi Benson, toldThe PUNCH that the tenure of Dr. Sam Amadi as NERC chairman had expired and wondered why he left Nigerians with such a parting gift.
He hinted that besides the earlier resolution of the House suspending a hike in tariff, the preliminary findings by the committee were against a higher tariff regime.
Benson added, “The announcement of the hike came as a rude shock and it is an unwanted gift left by the departed chairman of NERC.
“We are working assiduously towards rounding off our report; the report has justifiable reasons why tariff should not be increased.
“We shall submit the report to the Speaker (Mr. Yakubu Dogara) as soon as we resume (in January) although NERC has refused to submit the important documents needed.
“But, all this will be expressly stated in our report.”
Benson noted that NERC deliberately ignored the House’s position as it also disregarded two reminders the committee sent to the agency on October 29 and December 15.
In the December 15 letter, he said the committee warned NERC against defying the House.
Part of the letter read, “In paragraph 3 of our letter dated October 29, 2015, under the same subject heading, we requested you to suspend the implementation of any increase in electricity tariff until the committee concludes its investigations.
“Further recall that at the joint investigative hearing with the Committee on Power, it was agreed that any tariff increase should be suspended until all stakeholders are carried along.
“Our attention has been drawn to various news items published in many newspapers of yesterday, December 13, 2015, to the effect that your commission has concluded plans to announce new electricity tariff to Nigerians this week.
“It is our opinion that any plan by your commission to announce new electricity tariff will run contrary to the spirit of the letter under reference and undermine the outcome of the investigative hearing by this committee as it relates to infrastructure and billing by electricity distribution companies.
“We hereby, once again, demand that you suspend the announcement and/or implementation of any increase in electricity tariff until the above stated issues are concluded.”
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