By Balogun Damilola
The House of Representatives has insisted that the proposed supply of two-months free electricity for Nigerians be implemented to cushion the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on citizens.
The lawmakers on Thursday said poor citizens should not be deprived of free power supply because it will benefit the rich who are in the minority.
The statement which was signed by the spokesperson of the House, Benjamin Kalu added that at this critical moment, energy is essential for every Nigerian household, health facilities, and other vital public services to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and ensure economic recovery.
“It is not in doubt that the economic conditions occasioned by the pandemic have made it harder for low-income customers and businesses to pay their electricity bills, threatening them with disconnection.
“The call by the House for free electricity for Nigerians is borne of a realization that similar measures have become necessary to alleviate the suffering of Nigerians as we try to battle and emerge from this pandemic.
“We, therefore, maintain that it is unconscionable to the over 100 million low and middle-income earners in Nigeria whose income has been affected by the pandemic, to deprive them of this electricity tariff reprieve for fear that it would benefit the rich who do not constitute up to 10% of Nigeria’s population. It amounts to a disturbing case of punishing the majority for the sake of the few.
“We must, therefore, consider the example of other nations, including Ghana which innovated ways to absorb the electricity tariffs of all lifeline customers (persons who consume zero to 50 kilowatts-hours a month) and provide a 50% relief for higher-income residential and commercial customers,” the statement read in part.
Kalu added that we are faced with unprecedented times in the history of Nigeria and it behooves a responsible Federal Government to innovate ways to alleviate the suffering of people.
He added the government and stakeholders in the power sector need to explore creative solutions to make the proposed free electricity available to Nigerians.
He said the House of Representatives remains committed to ensuring the welfare of Nigerians, especially vulnerable households.
Electricity Distribution Company in Nigeria had announced that they were working with the Federal Government to provide free two-month electricity as a palliative to Nigerians.
The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) in reaction, however, dismissed this noting that the Federal Government cannot make power free because it does not own the power.
They noted that TCN is just the transporter of electricity that belongs to the Federal Government, while other chains are in private hands.