Reps, executive, other stakeholders set up joint committee on free electricity supply to Nigerians

The House of Representatives and stakeholders in the power sector on Thursday resolved to set up a joint implementation committee on the proposed two-month free power supply to the poor and vulnerable Nigerians as part of the stimulus package aimed at alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was agreed upon during a meeting held at the instance of the House leadership with the Minister of Power, Mr. Mamman Sale; Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), James Momoh; Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Mele Kyari; Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET), Mrs. Marilyn Amobi, as well as representatives of Distribution Companies (DisCos), who spoke on the need to identify who will bear the burden of cost of electricity for the period.

In his remarks, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, said the joint panel’s mandate is to work out modalities for the proposed two-month bill waiver for the most vulnerable people in the country.

According to him, the panel is also expected to identify the group of Nigerians to benefit from the free power supply, the number of households connected to the national grid as well as find the way forward for regular power supply to Nigerians after the COVID-19 crisis.

Gbajabiamila said the essence of the meeting was to proffer means of alleviating the socioeconomic effects of COVID-19 on Nigerians during and after the crisis period through the supply of power.

The Speaker, however, expressed his disappointment over the failure of Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission to ensure the establishment of the Power Consumer Assistance Fund as provided in the Act.

He said the fund would have served the purpose it was meant for, at this point, if it were in existence.

After being informed that the fund has not been set up, the Speaker, citing Section 83 of the Electricity Power Sector Act, said: “We have broken the law because the law mandated it; it is not optional. It is the act that mandated its establishment.”

In his remarks, the Minister of Power, Sale said the executive arm is ready to contribute its part to the success of the proposal, saying: “We will give all the support as well as technical advise towards the realisation of this objective. We are ready whenever our input is needed.”

On his part, NNPC Group Managing Director, Mr. Kyari, who observed that the issue of gas supply to the GenCos is critical to power supply in the country, said the proposal is workable if the issue of who is to carry the burden of cost and margins in the supply value chain is settled and agreed on by all the parties.

Saying that note had to be taken of the actual beneficiaries of the two-month free supply palliative because not every Nigerian falls into the category of the poorest, Kyari pointed out that the existence of the industrial sector should be of concern at the end of the crisis period.

The DisCos assured that they can deliver the mandate as soon as all the details were worked out and agreed on.

 

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