The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, has said the Nigerian Senate does not possess the constitutional authority to reverse the recently hiked electricity tariff.
Former chairman of the commission, Dr Sam Amadi, said on Sunday, that the directive by the Senate to suspend the new 45 per cent tariff hike, is illegal and unconstitutional.
The Senate as well as Labour Unions had argued that it would be harsh to impose new tariff on all categories of customers without commensurate increase in electricity supply.
In a bid to justify the decision to hike the tariff, Dr Amadi, revealed to Vanguard that the Senate’s attempt to wade into the matter, is a direct encroachment on executive independence.
“The order by the Senate for NERC to rescind the tariff is a direct infringement on the independence of the executive to initiate policies, in this case through NERC. It is a subtle derogation of the powers of the executive. It offends the concept of separation of power.”
“The legislature should not interfere and direct executive action. That is clearly against the law. It is unconstitutional.”
Amadi also explained that the NERC lacks the power to suspend or rescind the tariff order issued by its former Board until a new Board was reconstituted, while adding that ‘nobody anywhere can validly review or suspend the current tariff.’
“It is not wise for the Senate to instruct NERC to stop the tariff. It will create serious regulatory risks across the market value chain. People will begin to look at it and say there is no independence of the industry regulator.”
Meanwhile, the Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Muda Yusuf, speaking in a similar vein, also said: “It’s doubtful whether it is within the competence of the legislature to give such a directive.”
“A better approach would be for the legislature to invite the power firms to justify the increase.”