Thoughts Lead To Appreciation
Nigerian private consumers have been lumbered with a 45 percent upsurge in energy tariffs.
Commencing 2016 February 1, the federal government will charge power users per month more for zero-development in the electricity supply at the user’s disposal.
That is not only a disdain for Nigerian citizens, but also the culmination of a series of misleading pronouncements from government officials.
In early 2015 October after Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice President put forward the tariff increases citing improvements in power supply, I embarked on a project to prove the veracity and consistency of such productivity upgrade.
Four months on, the verdict is simple: There has been no satisfactory and sustainable expansion in distribution to warrant a commensurate amplification in tariff charges, let alone consumption and payment.
Determined to ignore facts and figures, the government, this time represented by Babatunde Raji Fashola, the Minister Of Power, Works And Housing came up with another excuse to extract funds from citizens – All manner of energy companies need cash for investment in infrastructure.
One would have thought sourcing of investments was more the job of financial institutions and not that of the consumer.
Private users of electricity, pay for service rendered, hold no financial asset in the infrastructure, receive no share of profit in terms of interests on loans or in any other format and do not collect huge remunerations reserved for chief executives of the electricity companies.
However, provide the funds the consumer must, for the consumer is the new bank, except we shall never get back our monies nor do we have the powers to seek that collateral property be frozen in order to retrieve our funds.
Let us examine further the current justifications for the tariff hike, shall we?
Raji blames the abrupt increase in charges on the cost of procuring raw materials for the energy sector.
Which of the raw materials have become more expensive to procure?
Is the gas produced locally subject to fluctuations in the international price of oil?
Can Raji please update the Nation on the before and after costs in equipment such as power plants, transformers and so on?
The Power Minister needs to bear in mind consumers in several parts of the Nation already bore the cost of their neighbourhood transformers, plus cost of maintenance and repairs.
The investors in the energy sector were well aware of the lapse between investment and return in investment.
The yields in investment can occur only after a consistent surge in delivery to the level of energy users.
The alternative explanation to the understanding of Raji Fashola is that private investors bought out the federal government and expected instant profits without an additional benefit to the consumer.
Private energy-generating corporations who demand an exorbitant fee before they can add surplus electricity to the national grid can always reserve such power produced to self.
They are to add the extra kilowatts of electricity to the grid only at the going rate.
We are not a Nation under siege.
Finally, will each of the electricity generation and distribution companies list the new equipment they have purchased, the cost of such equipment, revenue generated by the distribution companies, number of staff, level of service provided by their staff and staff salaries?
Yes, the electricity distribution firms are private establishments, but as they insist on bemoaning the Nation on their investments in the energy sector, we the citizens have every right to demand details of the expenditure and profit margin of these companies.
By the way, what is the business of government in marking prices for services supposedly rendered by private organisations?