The 100 percent hike in the tariff on electricity, scheduled to begin on Wednesday, July 1, was put on hold.
This comes after the intervention of the National Assembly leadership at a meeting with the Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos), the National Electricity Regulatory Agency (NERC) and others in the power chain, Monday evening, June 29.
During the weekend the DisCos announced that the tariff pushed forward from April 1 will take effect from July 1.
The planned increase was protested by customers but the DisCos insisted that only a “cost-reflective” tariff could guarantee their survival to keep the power sector afloat.
Senate President Ahmad Lawan and House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila pledged at Monday ‘s meeting to take the appeal of the DisCos to President Muhammed Buhari and urged them to move the tariff increase until April 2021.
In a statement to the Senate President, Ola Awoniyi, Special Adviser (Media) said the National Assembly leadership was emphatic at the meeting that the timing of the hike was inappropriate.
The statement added that the National Assembly leadership told the DisCos that they were not opposed to cost reflective tariff for the power sector to attract the much-needed investment.
The DisCos also admitted that although they desired it, they were not fully prepared for the planned tariff hike.
The statement added that the leaders of the National Assembly promised the distributors of electricity that they will meet with President Muhammadu Buhari on the issue.
The statement said: “The agreement here is that there is not going to be any increase in tariff on July 1.
“The Senate President and the Speaker are going to take appropriate action and meet with the President.
“We are in agreement here that there is no question on the justification of the increase but the time is simply not right and appropriate measures need to be put in place.
“So, between now and the first quarter of next year, our task will be to work together with you to ensure that we put those blocks in place to support the eventual increase in tariffs.”
The statement quoted Lawan as saying that the government had been doing a lot as part of its obligation to provide some forms of Intervention.
He said: “I’m quite aware that for this year, probably starting from last year, over N600 billion was earmarked for this sector to improve.
“The potential increase in the tariff is definitely something that will be of concern to us in the National Assembly.
“There is too much stress in the lives of Nigerians today and indeed across the world because of the challenges imposed by COVID-19 pandemic and even before then, we had issues that would always make it tough for our people to effectively pay the tariff.
“One way or the other, for this business to flourish, for this sector to be appropriately fixed, for it to attract investment, something has to give way, there is no doubt about that but it is also crucial that we look at the timing for any of our actions.”
According to the statement, Gbajabiamila said the National Assembly was on the same page with the DisCos on the issue of cost reflective tariff.
Gbajabiamila added: “There is time for everything. A well-intended programme or policy of government can fall flat on the face and never recover if you do it at a wrong time.
“Whatever will affect this government is something that should concern all of us. I think this will affect this government.
“The timing. I think it will affect the Muhammadu Buhari government and if it is going to affect his government, we should all rally around our people, our President and the government to make sure we do the right thing,
“The good thing is that we have agreed that we need to do something about the cost of electricity.”
The representatives of the DisCos said the government should be ready to continue to bear the difference in the present tariff and what was considered as the appropriate tariff.