By; BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan
Ahead of the commencement of the mass metering Initiative, the Federal Government on Wednesday warned electricity companies or their representatives in the country not to sell the planned meters to be rolled out to Nigerians
Speaking at a FGN/NLC-TUC Ad-hoc Committee Electricity Tarriff parley with customers, consumers and relevant stakeholders of the electricity sector in Ibadan, Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Infrastructure, Mr Ahmed Zakari declared that anyone caught selling the free electricity metres would be made to face the wrath of the law, adding that government, through the regulator’s direct order has made it clear that the intervention from the Ministry of Power that the meters are to be provided to Nigerians at no cost.
Mr Zakari stressed “If we find any discos or discos representatives selling these meters or exploiting Nigerians to be able to get meters by paying we will take the full measures of the law against the regulator and we will charge such to the full extent of the law”
“The President had mandated that meters must be free. We have also said they must come from the local manufacturers and this would create jobs and revive our industry. We are very excited about the prospects and we will not be taking any games from the discos, meters assemblers or manufacturers.” he said.
Mr Zakari added, “even for meters that would be paid for through the MAP, there is a directive from the regulator to the discos that they need to find a way to reimburse citizens over time. It may not be immediate but overtime”.
Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo while speaking stressed that the Ad-hoc committee has been working to achieve an equilibrium figure that will reflect the true price and value for the service of the electricity consumed.
The Minister said ” we are not working from the answer to the question but working on the question to the answer. To ask if there would be an increase or a decrease is immature. What we are doing is honest, open, fact finding, we want to question the rationale for the service reflective tariff.”
Mr Keyamo pointed out that the “labour wants to know why those components are being coined out to reach the final figure, can we adjust these components”, saying, “they are questioning rationale of these components like the price of gas, for example, can we reduce the price of gas? Those are the little components we are talking about”.
“By the time we look at those small components we can now see if it can affect the final figure that we can agree upon that would be service reflective for the consumer to pay. But then at the end of the day we want to ensure that the consumers are not strangulated by unnecessary exploitative tendencies of the discos and we also want to make sure that the discos are kept afloat, because if the discos are kept afloat they will also employ workers and deliver service to the Nigerian people and we can also attract investors”, he said.
The Minister added, “we are not saying service delivery will automatically mean price increase. We are only saying there is an acceptable figure. That figure is the equilibrium and we are looking for that equilibrium that will make everybody happy. And that means that the discos can be kept afloat to deliver services without having to go and look for money to subsidise their operations. The ordinary man is not cheated in the sense that the price is not exploitative, the consumer pays the actual price of the service and that is why it is called service reflective tariff those are the equilibrium we are looking for in this committee.”
He however assured that, at the end of the day whatever consensus reached going forward on electricity will be an agreement between government and labour.
Speaking, the IBEDC Acting Managing Director, Mr John Ayodele stated that the issue of banding is being fine tuned and that the company has been working to ensure that banding was achieved, saying, “we just started two months ago about the band. IBEDC go all the way to Kishi, Igbeti up to Jebba and other areas as well as part of Ekiti, Kogi State. It is so expensive in classifying bands, there are some of them that are on one feeder so at what point do you cut away one band from another on the same feeder and once that line is on everybody is on. ”
“So, those are the issues I said could be our teething problem. Yes we need to fine-tune because there are some areas where they are isolated for a while for some other things so those are the teething problems that we need to resolve.”
The NLC representative, Comrade Joe Ajero and his TUC counterpart, Dr Chris Okonkwo in their remarks stressed that the committee would address issues raised by the consumers and ensure that issues on electricity tariff are resolved without breakdown of peace.