The politics of electricity tariffs

It would seem from the deliberate efforts of the Nigerian trade unions to lump the issue of new electricity tariffs approved for Nigerian electricity distribution companies called discos, with  the  recent increase of fuel price to N145, that  the unions  have something to  hide  after  all. This is because Nigerians  are not as daft  as the Unions think. Indeed,  they  now know  better, especially with  the daily news of sabotage of oil  and gas  pipelines  that the problem of irregular or zero  electricity supply  lie  not with the discos. Instead they lie clearly with those that are to generate and transmit the electricity to the discos for onward delivery to the anxiously waiting and expectant Nigerian electricity consumers.

It is therefore patently unfortunate and mischievous of the unions in the power sector to vent their spleen on the discos as the culprit for poor electricity supply. The facts as the public now knows is that while the discos can be taken  to  task on slow metering and  use  of estimates the same cannot be done on the main  issue  of  lack of electricity and the  existing  poor  power supply. The obvious reason is that the discos do not exist in a vacuum,but are at the receiving end of a value chain  in electricity generation and transmission.

It follows therefore and there from that if the discos do not have kilowatts of electricity transmitted to them for distribution their distribution capacity is  denuded if  not nonexistent . So how come the power industry  trade  unions, the protector of workers’ rights are deliberately  portraying the discos as exploiting the Nigerian masses with the new tariffs and equating that with the highly explosive fuel price  increase that the  workers union have  called Nigerians out  on strike, albeit unsuccessfully? The answer is obvious and it is that Nigerians as I said before now know better and will not be led by the nose again by mischievous trade unions in any industry.

Nigerians know that the discos are owned by Nigerian investors who bought them at privatisation with their hard earned money and that the distribution function in electricity is capital intensive and highly expensive to deliver. They know that if the discos deliver then our economy will rise from its present dormant and comatose state and Nigerians will have a better life. Nigerians also know that electricity distribution is highly technological and it will  take some time for those who  have invested in it which  are the discos to make  any  profit. We also know that as  with  the  high prices  which ushered in telecommunications when gsm  phones  came in, the high tariffs in electricity already approved for the discos by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, the power regulator controlling the discos, will  also come down  for our overall enjoyment and general satisfactory consumption of electricity.

It is therefore unnecessary for the power trade unions, in agitating for workers rights and benefits to make  the discos and the tariffs  approved for them the scape goats  for poor electricity supply when Nigerians know the source of that. That is definitely misleading and more unpatriotic than the misleading picture of exploitation that the unions have painted the discos  on  the new tariffs. It is like giving the dog a bad name in order to hang it and that is  not what  the discos or the Nigerian electricity consumers deserve.

Especially now that Nigerians are calling on government to stop vandalisation of pipelines  and tackle those involved  like BokoHaram  and terrorists generally.

To salvage its reputation  from  the failed strike on the new  fuel price  increase, the trade unions should  refrain  from  lumping the protests  on  that score with the new electricity tariffs  that  NERC has approved for discos. This is because Nigerians know that better days are ahead if the discos are  allowed to function according to their legitimate  mandate to deliver electricity to  Nigerians and lift us out of perpetual  darkness.

The unions should channel their efforts at making Nigerians have electricity by asking government to galvanise its power generation and transmission capabilities to make the discos perform and deliver. That way, Nigerians will rally round when trade unions call  them out on strike  because  they will see that the Unions know what they  are saying especially on new electricity tariffs as well  as the real reasons for poor electricity  supply.