Mr Chidi Ike, Chairman, Independent Energy Watch Initiative I-WIN, an NGO, has said that the recent electricity tariff increase in Nigeria is driven by profit-making rather than service delivery.
Ike, who made the statement in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday, described the increase as untenable as it was not commensurate with improved service delivery.
He said a World Bank study showed that electricity penetration in Nigeria was 55 per cent, same with Ghana but both countries had different electricity populations.
“So, how come Ghana has 15 per cent of electricity customers’ population and Nigeria has five per cent of customers population?
“Our distribution companies are not telling us the truth,” he said.
Ike urged the distribution companies to operate an internationally bench marked financial audit that would ensure transparency in their operations.
“How can distribution companies start to talk about revenue inadequacy when they do not have financial audit in place?” Ike asked.
He explained that a lot of people felt that privatisation of the power industry would be the solution to Nigeria’s power challenges but this was not so.
Ike said while the sole aim of government was to develop the economy, private sector organisations focused on profit making.
He noted that the distribution companies were reluctant to extend electricity to the rural communities because they believed they would not make much revenue from those areas.
Ike said while it was true that the companies bought equipment from the same market as their counterparts in the advanced economies, Nigerians could not afford to pay international rates.
He said the reason was “because Nigerians and advanced countries do not earn the same salaries.”
Ike said the NGO would educate Nigerians on power issues by providing a portal they could use to discuss energy matters.
He described the privatisation of Power Holding Company of Nigeria by the Federal Government as the sale of common patrimony to the rich.
“Government sells these publicly owned institutions which are collective patrimony to few rich people who are government representatives
“And when these few people come to power, the first thing they do is to hit people with is cost reflective tariff, which is profit motive.
“As they keep doing this the end up with prices that are beyond what the common masses can pay.
“So the rich keep getting richer while the poor keeps getting poorer,” he said.