Organised labour has faulted the plan by the Federal Government to further increase electricity tariff and queried whose interest the government had been representing since the privatisation of the power sector.
Joe Ajaero, the general secretary of National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) raised the query in reaction to a statement credited to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo that Nigerians should brace up for a further increase in electricity tariff.
Ajaero who fielded questions from journalists during the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of NUEE, held in Lagos, on Saturday, said it was obvious that the Federal Government was aligning with the operators in the power sector to inflict pain on Nigerians. Ajaero argued that it was only in Nigeria that consumers of electricity would be told to pay higher tariffs even when power is not being supplied to homes, offices, factories.
He explained that going by the abysmal performance of the Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) and other operators since the privatisation in 2013, there was no justification for a further tariff hike, and wondered whether the Vice President is seeking to make more money for himself and his co-investors.
Vice President Osinbajo should apologise to Nigerians for seeking to punish them with higher tariff. Nigerians should ask Osibanjo whether he is the spokesperson of the investors in the power sector. Is he an investor himself? I think that it is now becoming clear that some people in government have their hands in DISCOs.”
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo last week at the sixth Presidential Business Forum held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, had urged Nigerians to brace for a new electricity tariff regime.
Osinbajo said there was no question at all about the tariff increase, adding however, that government was not going to implement it now but was working towards cleaning the electricity value chain.
According to him, the N700 billion Payment Assurance Guarantee (PAG) set aside by government was payment to ensure uninterrupted payment for gas and liquidity in the power sector.
Osinbajo said the PAG was to fund a smooth transition “from where we are to a much more market-determined policy for electricity”, adding that the government was working with the World Bank on this initiative.