The National Economic Council (NEC) has approved the sum of N 50 billion for electricity bill subsidy in the country. This is ahead of the new billing regime pronounced by the hike in tariffs expected to take effect from June 1st.
According to NEC member Governor Peter Obi, the new Multi Year Tariff Order will reduce electricity bills for the poor and increase the electricity bills of the rich. Harping on the benefits of the program Obi said, “ free full metering of all customers between 12 and 16 months to ensure that every customer is billed according to use. Other merits include provision of access to energy-saving bulbs, which can reduce cost of consumption by 40 per cent and lifeline customers (low users in cities and villages) to pay less with no metre maintenance fee or fixed charges”.
He added, “Overall, if we get the power issue right, Nigerians will pay less than 20 per cent of what they pay today generating their own power. And to ensure that there will now be accurate metering no longer estimated metering. These were issues we looked at, let’s have the real thing Nigerians will be ready to pay but you have to demand for the real thing. I understand the agitations from Nigerians because when they see things like this they are always agitated but in the long run, what we need to do is to hold everybody responsible that they deliver the correct result. And I assure you that what is coming now if we get it right, the average barber shop, vulcanize everybody will have less than 20 percent of what he is spending today in generating his own power and there will be increase in job creation. Manufacturers are leaving Nigeria to Ghana ; businesses are leaving Nigeria because of cost of power. So we are going to them, you are paying this in Ghana pay it here and stay here. And that is what is important so that they can employ labour.
“We the governors of the poor states cannot allow our people to go through more difficulties. The tariff that is coming out is at least 40 per cent lower than what you pay say in Ghana but I for one cannot exposed my people to further hardship”.
Many Nigerians are protesting the planned hike in electricity prices due to governments inability to provide stable electricity, and PHCN officials practice of arbitrary billing.