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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Support electricity tariff hike or risk total blackout soon -Minister

There could be total blackout in the country in the next three months if the proposed electricity tariff hike is not implemented.

This is according to the Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, on Monday in Abuja when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Power at an investigative hearing over the recent electricity tariff hike by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

This followed the rejection of the new tariff regime by the Senate committee, led by Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe.

Adelabu said, “The entire sector will be grounded if we don’t increase the tariff. With what we have now in the next three months, the entire country will be in darkness if we don’t increase tariffs.

“The increment will catapult us to the next level. We are also Nigerians, we are also feeling the impact.”

He said the sum of $10 billion is needed yearly for the next 10 years to revive the nation’s power sector and nip in the bud the challenges bedeviling it.

“For this sector to be revived, the government needs to spend nothing less than $10bn annually in the next 10 years.

“This is because of the infrastructure requirement for the stability of the sector. But the government cannot afford that. And so we must make this sector attractive to investors and to lenders.

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“So, for us to attract investors and investment, we must make the sector attractive, and the only way it can be made attractive is that there must be commercial pricing.

“If the value is still at N66 and the government is not paying subsidy, the investors will not come. But now that we have increased the tariff for A Band, there are interests being shown by investors,” he said.

Adelabu said the inability of the government to pay outstanding N2.9 trillion subsidy was due to limited resources, hence the need to evolve measures to sustain the sector.

He appealed to the lawmakers to support the process of paying the debt owed operators across the value chain of generation, transmission and distribution.

But the Senate Committee on Power, led by Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, expressed concerns over the suffering of Nigerians, and asked the minister and other key players in the sector to explore other options.

Senators Simon Lalong (Plateau South) and Adamu Aliero (Kebbi Central), said consultations were not made before the tariff increase, stressing palliative would have been provided in the process.

Abaribe, who is Chairman of the Committee said, “What Nigerians wanted was a solution to the issues and ways to ensure liquidity in the sector.”

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He also decried the nonappearance of a company “ZIGLAKS” over the failed agreement to provide prepaid meters for Nigerians, alleging that the company had received N32 billion in 20 years to meter Nigerian electricity consumers.

Other stakeholders who made presentations at the investigative hearing were the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (NAN), Association of Power Generation (Gencos), Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) among others.

Theresa Arike
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