Electricity consumer protection groups, Energy Consumer Rights and Responsibilities Initiative and the All Electricity Consumers Protection Forum have warned the federal government against removing electricity subsidy.
The groups noted that subsidy was a proviso in the Electric Power Sector Reform Act of 2005. They argued that the proviso could not be removed by fiat without an amendment to the act by the National Assembly.
Finance minister Zainab Ahmed had disclosed that the government was working towards removing the electricity subsidy to free up funds for other critical areas.
Adeola Samuel-Ilori, the AECPF national coordinator, said even if the government did not make for electricity subsidy in the 2022 budget, it did not translate to its immediate withdrawal.
“Subsidy is provided for in the EPSRA, and government cannot unilaterally remove it without recourse to the National Assembly for amendment,” Mr Samuel-Ilori said. “Unless that proviso is removed from the Act, government can’t remove it.”
Mr Samuel-Ilori added that the group would take legal action to protect the interest of consumers if the subsidy was discontinued.
“We have already filed a suit against the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission over the implementation of the July 2021 Minor Review of the Multi-Year Tariff Order (MYTO-2020),” he added. “The suit was filed at the Federal High Court in Ibadan to stop the continued implementation because it violates the provisions of Section 76 (1) of the EPSRA.”
On his part, Surai Fadairo, the ECRRI national president, stated that there would be a steep increment in electricity tariffs if the government removed the subsidy.
Mr Fadairo noted that electricity was a social service that helped the well-being of Nigerians in various ways, especially the provision of opportunities for small-scale business owners.
“With the recent MYTO review, I can tell you that many consumers are struggling to deal with the increment, and any further increase in tariffs will have a negative effect on the economy. We are appealing to the government to appraise the situation properly before taking any action,” he said. “It should also engage stakeholders and civil society organisations in the power sector to work out how the sector can be repositioned for efficiency across its value chain.”