Joe Ajaero, general secretary, National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), raised the query in reaction to a statement credited to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo that Nigerians should brace up for a further increase in electricity tariff.
Ajaero, who fielded questions from journalists during the national executive council (NEC) meeting of NUEE, held in Lagos, on Saturday, said it was obvious that the Federal Government was aligning with the operators in the power sector to inflict pain on Nigerians. Ajaero argued that it was only in Nigeria that consumers of electricity would be told to pay higher tariffs even when power was not being supplied to homes, offices and factories.
He explained that going by the abysmal performance of the Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) and other operators since the privatisation in 2013, there was no justification for a further tariff hike, and wondered whether the Vice President was seeking to make more money for himself and his co-investors.
‘Vice President Osinbajo should apologise to Nigerians for seeking to punish them with higher tariff. Nigerians should ask Osibanjo whether he was the spokesperson of the investors in the power sector. Is he an investor himself? I think that it is now becoming clear that some people in government have their hands in DISCOs,” he said.
The Vice President last week at the sixth Presidential Business Forum held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, urged Nigerians to brace up for a new electricity tariff regime.
He said there was no question at all about the tariff increase, adding however that government was not going to implement it now but was working towards cleaning the electricity value chain.
According to Osinbajo, the N700 billion Payment Assurance Guarantee (PAG) set aside by government was payment to ensure uninterrupted payment for gas and liquidity in the power sector.
He said the PAG was to fund a smooth transition “from where we are to a much more market-determined policy for electricity,” saying the government was working with the World Bank on this initiative.