The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has stated that consumers will not pay for meters in the new guidelines, as it will be added to the electricity tariffs.
The Commissioner, Finance and Management Services, NERC, Nathan Shatti, also explained that customers, who had paid for meters would be compensated by a refund.
However, stakeholders in the sector have faulted this position, saying the government is not sincere in its dealing with the people, as there is no justification for the recent increase in electricity tariff.
They said the only way the increment could be justified is for the NERC to create a non-complex procedure that would allow consumers to sue distribution companies (DisCos) for negligence.
Specifically, Dr. Oladayo Olakanmi of the Department of Electrical/Electronics, Faculty of Technology, University of Ibadan, Oyo State, called for a pragmatic and academic approach to solve the challenges in the power sector.
Olakanmi urged the government to hinge recent development on the Internet of Things (IoT) for effective smart metering, saying that it would reduce the revenue collection overhead, energy theft by consumers, and unnecessary over and under-billing.
He said: “Rather than metering with current meters, distribution companies should go for smart meters capable of monitoring and billing consumers’ usages on a real-time basis. This will reduce the overheads incurred through physical inspection and marketing.
“Besides, distribution companies should be up and doing, this can be enforced through government act that empowers consumers to sue disco at will. Provision of transformers shouldn’t be the responsibility of consumers. Any market woman can do what distribution companies are doing.”
Reacting to Shatti’s pronouncement, Olakanmi accused the government of speaking from both sides of the mouth, noting that NERC’s plan is to credit consumers’ energy accounts with certain amounts of units corresponding to the value of the meter.
“This does not justify the unnecessary increment, because consumers will still pay for the meters. At the end of the day, it is going to be a win-win for the DisCos. Is it only meters that the consumers are responsible for? Consumers are the ones buying transformers, poles, even paying for the maintenance of all these electrical components. Meanwhile, all these are justifications for the increment. NERC should look at this, and ensure DisCOs take up their responsibilities. Create a non-complex procedure that will allow consumers to sue DisCos for any of their negligence. Only this can justify this increment.”
On the recent directive by the Presidency that electricity consumers should henceforth pay directly to commercial banks, Olakanmi argued that this will not solve the electricity challenges.
“I can boldly say the government is only trying to be clever by half. Involving commercial banks only allows the government to monitor DisCos revenue; this has nothing to do with problems facing electricity consumers.