An appeal from the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has gone to Nigerians to accept in good faith, the recent inctement of electricity tariffs in the country.
Though, the Minister said it was “a painful pill”, he urged consumers to bear with electricity providers to deliver.
There has been demonstrations across the country, Monday against the new increase, which will see consumers pay over 45 percent higher than they have been paying before. It took effect from February 1.
Fashola, who made the appeal Monday during the second monthly sectoral meeting with stakeholders in the power sector in Lagos, where he also inspected some projects at the Alagbon Transmission and Distribution Complex, said the increment was inevitable considering the high cost of generating and distributing electricity.
He stated, “Importantly, I understand that people who have been disappointed over a long time will feel a sense of concern that again tariffs have gone up. But the truth is that these tariffs ought to have been there from day one. I don’t know why the government of yesterday was not courageous enough to tell us this was the price.
“It is a painful pill that I must appeal that we swallow. It is like quinine and malaria. It’s painful; it’s not sweet, I know that, but I do it because we are not left with many choices. This is the first major decision in power that this administration has taken. There are other problems.
“I can only appeal for some understanding and some trust that we do this in the best interest of our country. It is a hard decision, but I think down the line, we will have cause to to applaud the decisipn””
The Minister noted that the power sector was littered with several problems including gas supply shortfall and transmission issue.
He said: “The problem is everywhere. The problem is with us. The problem is with gas. The problem is with transmission. The problem is with the way the privatisation exercise itself was conducted.
“But as I have said before, I am not going to lament what has happened in the past. I am going to move on with it. So, the first move we have made when we accessed the situation, nobody was happy with it when we took over.
“This is a problem that has been here for 16 years, if we put it mildly. It is a problem that has been here 100 years ago, if we put it really extremely. I have been here for less than a 100 days, and I think we can solve this problem if you give us the tools that we need to do it. I think that this problem can be solved, and the day that we feel that it cannot be solved, I will gladly come and tell you that I don’t think it will work.”
The Nigerian Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress and civil society groups protested across the states capital and including Abuja, Monday, on what they termed exploitative tendencies of National Electricity Regulatory Commission and distribution companies, which the new regime represents.
They asked that Fashola ordered a reversal and that what should be uppermost now should be how to increase electricity supply from the abysmal level it currently is.