President Bola Tinubu recently stopped the implementation of a hike in electricity tariff and insisted that subsidy be paid on power consumed nationwide, the Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, revealed on Wednesday.
Adelabu also stated that the Federal Government would investigate the legality of the five-year licence extension given to privatised power distribution and generation companies, stressing that the operating licences of the firms would have expired on October 31, 2023.
The minister, who spoke at a press briefing in Abuja, further stated that he would sack any non-performing chief executive in agencies under the power ministry if their non-performance would make him lose his job as minister.
Speaking on the call for a cost-reflective tariff, which would lead to a hike in the amount payable for power, Adelabu said, “The power sector is an industry that is very sensitive to any leader.
“You cannot jump overnight and implement the cost-reflective tariff. I can tell you that till today the government still subsidises power. The tariff should have been raised months back, but Mr President said until we are able to achieve regular and incremental power supply we can’t touch the tariff.
“So there is a gap between the cost-reflective tariff that we are supposed to charge and the allowed tariff. That huge gap the government is still handling as a subsidy. This affects liquidity in the system, and investments and causes so many constraints.”
He noted that the non-implementation of this was actually causing a liquidity crisis in the sector, but stressed that the President had refused to allow a raise in the electricity rate.
“Now, I never said that it is not yet time to charge a cost-reflective tariff. Rather, I said cost reflective tariff is supposed to have been implemented months ago because it is the source of liquidity to the system.
“But for political reasons and empathy, you cannot cause additional burden on Nigerians. We just had the removal of fuel subsidy, we are talking about the exchange rate skyrocketing, galloping inflation and so many others that bring hardship to the people.
“And Mr President is trying to relieve this hardship through various forms of palliatives. So it is not politically expedient and reasonable to now implement a tariff that is more like dumping the existing tariff.
“We are now paying about N70 (per kilowatt-hour), and it can never be less than N130 or N140 at the exchange rate of today if we are to implement a cost-reflective tariff. Because part of the reasons for an increased tariff is the price of gas, which is paid in dollars,” Adelabu stated.
He explained that as of today, 75 to 80 percent of Nigeria’s power is from gas power plants, “and their raw material is gas. So, once the exchange rate goes up, the cost of gas also goes up and it affects the tariff.”
He, however, pointed out that the tariff would be increased at the appropriate time, which would be after a lot of sensitisation and communication with the public, adding that there must also be an assured incremental and regular supply.
The minister said the about 4,000 megawatts of power generation in Nigeria was shameful and unacceptable, noting that efforts were being made to increase this.