The Federal Government has increased electricity tariff effective from June 1, 2012. MOSES JOHN, TAIWO OGUNMOLA and PATRCIK OCHOGA, in this write-up, capture the views of Nigerians on the new tariff.
The recent hike in electricity tariff by the Federal Government against the wishes of the majority of the people has been seen by different people from different perspectives.
While some see it as a crime against the populace, a great injustice and confirmation of government insensitivity to the citizenry, because according to them there is no need increasing the hike when the commodity is not available, others however feel the new price should be allowed to stay for now if only that is the sacrifice Nigerians would make to attract investors to the sector.
Some Nigerians who spoke to LEADERSHIP said even though the products availability increase in recent week, but definitely, “we will feel the new tariff because one expenses will increase due to the increase.
They said is unfair for the Government to add more loads on the masses when even the Minimum wage recently approved is yet to be implanted by some state and private sector.
In Abuja, North central, some civil servants who spoke under the condition of anonymous told LEADERSHIP that the new tariff is harsh on workers and “our income has not increase to meet up with the new tariff”.
It is a known fact that for years, Nigerians have not been enjoying stable power which they have been paying for. The past administrations had spent billions of naira to bring stable electricity to the people but due to the corrupt nature the society and system, all the effort proved abortive.
In Lagos, south west Nigeria, the people whose pulse were felt by LEADERSHIP, unanimously decried President Goodluck Jonathan’s proposal to privatise the power sector and also hike the tariff.
To them, it is only Nigeria that such pervasive announcement can be made without people revolting; in fact Nigerians are complacent because government knows that people will not complain, they said.
Immediately after government announcement that, on June 1, 2012, the electrcity tariff would go up, both the consumers and providers of the service complained bitterly, saying it might generate serious controversy between the people and electricity workers.
Reacting to the development, the president of Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Company (SSAEAC), Bede Opara, lamented the idea of increasing tariff, knowing very well that Nigerians are not enjoying the service as expected.
He also said that it would be difficult for Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) workers to distribute the bill for the new tariff without the people grumbling and prices of goods going up.
“Now that people have no choice but to pay the new tariff, there is tendency that food stuff escalates and other items in the market. Women who ply market will buy food stuff at a high price and if this continues, it might result to starvation when there is no money to purchase food,” he said.
Mrs Anna Ochonogor, a nurse, believes it is all part of government’s non-challance to the plight of the people.
She said: “What can we say to government of the day that has nothing in store for its citizens, nothing but hardship and suffering, moving from one problem to another?
“There is high rate of armed robbers on the highways, while some parade the houses due to the bad economy. The likely effects of hike in PHCN tariff are numerous, such as increase in food items and other materials, increase in crime, among others”.
She said the selfish interest of government officials led Nigeria to this problem, because people see it as noting is working in Nigeria. She said it was important to remind those in authority that more trouble is ahead if nothing is done to provide stable the power in Nigeria like other developed countries.
“It is shameful to Nigeria that Ghana recently celebrated uninterrupted power supply for years, but Nigeria is yet to get there due to bad leadership and corrupt minds that surrounds him (the president),” she said.
In South-South Nigeria, residents in Benin City, Edo State, described the recent increase in tariff by the PHCN as another policy by the government to rip-off Nigerians who have already been pauperised by the system.
Comrade Edosa Okunbo, a business development consultant and public analyst, said the increase in tariff only demonstrated that the government had run out of ideas in addressing the lingering problem of epileptic power supply
According to him, “It is very unfortunate that in a country where the energy sector is epileptic, they have the effrontery to even increase electricity tariff. It is shocking that this is the only country on the planet where people are compelled to pay for services not rendered.
“Sometime ago, we were told that PHCN, as it now known, had been unburdened by 17 companies and that in no distance time there is going to be improvement in energy supply. As I speak to you, there is no light and I know that in my neighborhood we have been experiencing blackout. At the end of the day, people pay for services not rendered, and also spend their money to power their generators. I know that a lot of Nigerians have been impoverished by the increase in tariff and it is rather unfortunate.”
On the argument that the increase would bring about efficiency in the system, he had the retort: “That is what they said while they were unburdening PHCN almost a year ago. The question is, has there been improvement in the sector? But what we see is constant harassment by PHCN staff and, in the process, they will extort money from you.
“So I would have suggested a situation whereby there is increase in power generation and distribution. Nigerians would pay for services rendered to them. Government, for now is confused; they should go back and find out what is happening and how many megawatts is in used, there are a lot of people without meters who don’t pay bills and ensure that the proper thing is done.