• en

Nigeria’s Senate Halts Proposed Electricity Tariff Hike

The Minister of Power had last week hinted that the federal government might remove subsidy on electricity supply.

The Senate has rejected the proposed plan by the federal government to further increase electricity tariff being charged consumers across the country.

The upper chamber on Wednesday, also asked its Committee on Power to probe the claims by the Minister of Power Adebayo Adelabu on why the government must remove subsidy on electricity.

The resolution was sequel to a motion sponsored by Aminu Abbas (PDP, Adamawa Central) during the plenary.

The Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, who presided over the plenary ruled over the resolution of the red chamber after a majority of the senators supported it through voice vote.

The Minister of Power had last week hinted that the federal government might remove subsidy on electricity supply.

Adelabu had claimed that  Nigeria could not continue to subsidise electricity to Nigeria because of the huge indebtedness in the power sector to the tune of N3 trillion.

However, federal lawmakers in the red chamber had asked him to perish the thought in their separate contributions during a debate on the motion on the grounds that it would aggravate the sufferings of Nigerians.

Abbas, had while presenting the motion  explained that  the removal of electricity subsidy would increase the electricity tariff and make payment of electricity bill unbearable for Nigerians.

The senator justified his claim with the fact that there was high level of poverty in the country and the current economy is harsh on Nigerians, making living very expensive.

Abbas said, “In a country where greater number of the population live below the poverty level, with stagnant wages, rising inflation and depreciating currency, the prospect of higher electricity bill is unattainable.”

Most of the lawmakers supported the rejection of the increase in the electricity tariff.

The Senator representing Sokoto South, who was a former governor and Speaker, House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, said it would be unfair if the government increase electricity tariff when Nigerians were currently going through hardship.

Tambuwal said, “The populace are facing untold hardships and the situation in the country is anything but normal and removal of any subsidy not to talk to electricity subsidy would be more than adding petrol to fire.

“When I heard the minister of power talking about removal, I don’t know why but I believe that it is insensitive.”

The Senate Minority Leader who is representing Benue South in the Red Chamber, Abba Moro,  said the challenges of power supply in the country were very crucial and the negative aspects have forced many companies to fold up.

The Senator representing Abia North,  Orji Kalu urged the federal government to focus on distribution and circulation of electricity supply and not increment.

“Why should people be paying for what they did not use? Our focus should be on transmission and  distribution”, he queried.

Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Oil and Gas Host Communities has invited the Chief Executive of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Mr. Gbenga Komolafe, for discussions over the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).

The panel said it was important that Komolafe had an interface with its members on matters bordering on the implementation challenges of the PIA and the pressing need to address the grievances of host communities.

The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Benson Agadaga, issued the summons in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja.

Agadagba, noted with concern that the NUPRC boss had not been honouring past invitations of the panel.

The panel noted that Komolafe was expected to throw more light to his agency’s activities as the nation grapples with the implementation challenges of the PIA and the pressing need to address the grievances of host communities.

Part of the statement read, “The Senate Committee, therefore, called on the NUPRC to honour the invitation and appear before the committee.

“Failure to do so will only deepen public mistrust and fuel the flames of discontent that threatens to engulf the nation’s collective progress.

“As the custodians of Nigeria’s natural resources, it is imperative that regulatory bodies such as the NUPRC demonstrate unwavering commitment to transparency, equity, and the well-being of host communities.

“Anything less betrays the aspirations of the Nigerian people and undermines the promise of a fair and prosperous future for all.”

Also on Wednesday, a bill seeking to establish the South West Development Commission (SWDC), scaled second reading in Senate.

Also, a similar bill which seeks to create the North Central Development Commission NCDC), equally scaled second reading.

The SWDC Bill titled: “A Bill for an Act to establish the South West Development Commission, 2023” was sponsored by Senator Gbenga Daniel and co-sponsored by all Senators from the South West in the 10th Senate.

Daniel in his lead debate, said the Bill was read for the first time in August, 2023.

He said the “SWDC aims to be forward looking about filling in the gaps in critical areas of needs that can accelerate and stimulate development; mitigating cost of  lands for Agriculture, connecting roads and rails, managing environment/ecology and expanding frontiers of opportunities for our collective prosperity etc.”

Senators in their contributions supported the Bill and they approved that the Bill be read for a second time when it was put to voice vote by Senate President Godswill Akpabio.

In a similar vein, a Bill titled: “A Bill to establish the North Central Development Commission Bill also scaled second reading.

The bill was sponsored by Senator Sani Musa and the Minority Leader of the Senate, Abba Moro.

Moro presented the lead debate during plenary.

According to him, the NCDC when established would act as a catalyst for the development of the North Central zone.

Also on Wednesday, a Bill seeking the establishment of a South East Development Commission (SEDC) also scaled second reading.

The Bill was transmitted to the Senate for concurrence by the House of Representatives which has already passed the Bill.

Akpabio referred the Bill to the Committee of the Committee of the Whole and to be considered at the next legislative day.

Furthermore, the Senate on Wednesday screened President Bola Tinubu nominees for membership of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Tinubu forwarded their names to the Senate for confirmation last week.

The Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, chaired by Senator Tokunbo Abiru, asked the six nominees, critical questions pertaining to the economy and possible solutions to forex volatility and food crisis.

The meeting of the MPC had been slated for Monday next week.

The Director General of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Alhaji Lamido Yuguda, was the first to be grilled by the panel.

He informed the committee that his nomination into MPC, would give SEC the needed voice in monetary policy.

He noted with concern that the value of the Naira presently was not real, having lost its intrinsic value but that the MPC, when inaugurated next Monday, would join other stakeholders, to work towards stabilising the FX market.

The nominee from Lagos State, Dr Mustapha Akinkunmi, said the way out now was to target the exchange rate and not inflation as being done without much result.

The nominee from Imo State, Mrs. Aku Odinkemelu, said productivity was the key for arresting the volatility of Naira and food inflation.

Other nominees, grilled at the session by the committee, were Prof. Murtala Sagagi from Kano State, Bamidele Amoo from Kwara State and Alloysius Uche Ordu, who worked with the World Bank and Africa Development Bank for 30 years at different times.

In his closing remarks,  Abiru (APC Lagos East), told the nominees that their screening was done ahead of MPC meeting slated for Monday next week by the CBN.

Sunday Aborisade

Follow us on: