From increased electricity tariffs to over ₦150 for fuel, does FG understand what extreme poverty is?

COVID-19 came like a nuclear bomb early this year. It changed work and lifestyles, affected economies, caused lockdowns and for Nigerian leaders, it is an opportunity to come up with policies that negatively affect an already mostly poor population. A period when Nigerians, just like the rest of the world, are still struggling to rise from the economic hardship that resulted from the pandemic.

In case you missed it, the Federal Government recently announced an increase in electricity tariff through the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, with effect from September 1, 2020. The news has come as a rude shock to Nigerians who have taken to Twitter to express their dissatisfaction.

See how Nigerians are reacting:

 

It is surprising that this is coming only three months after the National Assembly postponed the tariff hike implementation slated for July 1 to the first quarter of 2021. Nigerians heaved a huge sigh of relief when they heard about the postponement, only to learn today that the FG has changed this decision.

We forget that Nigerians are yet to recover from the lockdown – the job losses, the closed shops, and so on. And with schools slated to resume this September, one can only imagine the financial burden that will come with it, school fees and everything in between.

However, a press release by the NRC says that vulnerable Nigerians will not be affected by the tariff increase. “In all cases, poor and vulnerable Nigerians will not experience any increase. In line with these expectations, DISCOs are directed to engage with their customers on a Service-Based Tariff structure.”

How will they categorise ‘poor and vulnerable Nigerians’? Are we not mostly poor and vulnerable in Nigeria already? They hardly recognise this, more reason the government allowed the pump price of premium motor spirit (PMS) otherwise known as petrol was increased to ₦151.56 per litre with effect from September 2, 2020.

This was disclosed in an internal memo and issued by the Pipeline and Product Marketing Company (PPMC), Ibadan depot, to all the stakeholders on September 2, 2020, and signed by the Depot Manager, D.O. Abalaka.

The PPMC internal memo reads, “Please be informed that a new product price adjustment has been effected on our payment platform. To this end, the price of premium motor spirit (PMS) is now one hundred and fifty-one naira, fifty-six kobo (₦151.56) per litre. This is effective 2nd September 2020.”

This is coming barely a day after the Managing Director of 11 Plc (formerly Mobil Oil Nigeria Plc), Adetunji Oyebanji, who also doubles as the Chairman of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, said that the pump price of petrol should be closer to ₦155 per litre.

Apparently, the hardship COVID-19 came with holds no water in the ears of our supposed leaders and we need to intensify our struggle to make actual changes.

2023 is one opportunity. 

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