The Minister for Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, recently explained that the resolve by Federal Government to increase electricity tariff was meant to attract investors into the Power sector in Nigeria since only a few among them were willing to invest in the sector, hitherto.
According to him, investors were already indicating resolve to pull out of the power sector with signs that they were not going to get returns on their investments.
Speaking while defending the ministry’s budget, Fashola said, “Electricity is a product, it is made from raw materials and some of the raw materials are gas so, the issue of tariff is the single issue of price, when the raw materials of course will go up the price cannot stay the same.
“You may ask why we can’t have more power before the price goes up: I am also a consumer, but we see that investments in power are not where they should be.
“If the recovery of price, the income and profit do not make economic sense to the investor, would you do that business if you are the one?
“So it is not what I want, it is what I think will solve the problem, everybody owes everybody in the power equation and they also owe banks. If you want investment in power, banks must continue to see confidence to lend.
“There are a lot of investors who want to pay a little more than the open market tariff, if we want them to come into the industry we have to allow the new tariff order.” The minister explained.
Consumers who responded on the issue of the tariff increment in Akwa Ibom state reasoned that since Government has bought out the issue of generation of power and people will not go into generation of power but would enjoy constant power supply, then those who are willing to invest in the sector for business purposes would need to recover their investment and make some profit.
It is however clear that the law passed by the National Assembly clearly gives NERC the responsibility and power to give tariff that would enables them to recover their investment and make returns on investment and as such whatever happens in the sector concerning tariff if lawful and legal.
Consumers in some areas like Osongame Estate, within Uyo metropolis who are equipped with the prepaid meter reasoned that the tariff increment will among other things necessitate consumers to be more prudent in the use of electricity while always mindful of switching off all appliances that are not of immediate use just to limit unit consumption.
Those in some areas, especially the outskirt of the state capital, which still go on estimated bills by the PHED sees the increment as a huge relief from over bloated bills that they were hitherto being saved on monthly bases.
According to a land lord in Aka Nnung Udoe, he was being saved N10,000 monthly on the average but as at the new rate he received a bill of N3, 500 for the very first time.
A staff of PHED in the state, who pleaded anonymity, explained that most of the over bloated bills, were handy work of fraudulent workers who were nor remitting same to the company.
According to him, an average house hold would consume not more than five units of electricity in a month and as such even with the estimated bill; it should not be more than N3, 500. “We know when to increase the estimate. With the increment, N750, 00 70 per cent of homes would still pay between N3, 500 to N5, 000 per month whether with meter reading or estimated, which may not be difficult in any way to pay. He explained.
With the fact that power has been relatively stable in the state within the past few months, most power consumers in the state are of the view that paying more money to secure constant power supply is not a problem as such would amount to increase in business and better living condition but would see it as a serious case when the increase is not correspond better condition of electricity supply.